This Saturday on November 28 the El Paso Zoo will celebrate International Jaguar Day at 11:00 am Mountain Time on Zoom. The jaguar is the third largest big cat species in the world and like so many animals living at the Zoo has a long history in North America going back to the Pleistocene which lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Few people looking at a jaguar today think about how these big cats are living relicts of our continent’s ancient past and its role as an apex predator. Imagine a jaguar competing with now extinct predators like saber-toothed and scimitar-toothed cats hunting for ground sloths and flat-headed peccaries while wooly mammoths look on.
Today Jaguars are opportunistic feeders reported to eat over 80 different animal species including deer, capybara, tapirs, peccaries, fish, turtles, small caimans, birds and monkeys.
Jaguars are native to parts of the southern US, Mexico and Central and and South America. They are mainly found in a rainforest environment like the Amazon Basin, but they can also thrive in savannas, deserts and grasslands. Jaguars are famous for their golden coat, which is covered with black spots and rosette patterns.
Once found over large areas of subtropical dry forests and high elevation desert areas from California to Texas, a US Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plan adopted in 2019 focuses on habitat in Mexico. Since 1996, seven individual male jaguars have been documented in the United States, all in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. If conservation efforts are successful and jaguars dispersing from Mexico are not blocked by the border wall, a recovered breeding population could once again become a reality in the US.
A peripheral area for jaguars could include areas of southern New Mexico not far from El Paso. Peripheral areas include habitat that contain few verified historical or recent records of jaguars, the quality and quantity of habitat are marginal for supporting jaguars, but may sustain short-term survival of dispersing jaguars and temporary residents.
Join the Zoo on Zoom for International Jaguar Day on Saturday, November 28 at 11am. Join Zoom Meeting Click Here.
Meeting ID: 597 854 2656