Ellen Trout Zoo, in Texas, recently announced the birth of a male Jaguar cub. The cub was born August 20 to 9-year-old mom, Seraphina, and 3-year-old dad, Kabah. The little boy has been named Balam (Mayan word for jaguar).
The new cub, which was born as part of the AZA Species Survival Plan, is an important new addition. The last Jaguar birth at Ellen Trout Zoo occurred in 1996 when a litter of three was born at the East Texas zoo.
Seraphina, unfortunately, was not nursing Balam after his birth. Keepers intervened and are now feeding and caring for him. The cub has been doing well under the Zoo Staff’s care and supervision. He weighed 1.6 pounds at birth and is now up to 2 pounds.
The Zoo has not stated when it will be possible to return Balam to the care of his mother. For now, their objective is to provide the attention he needs to ensure he thrives and develops properly.
The cub is not on public view, at the moment. Staff will post regular updates on the Zoo’s media pages, and they will announce when he makes his public debut.
The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a feline in the genus Panthera and is the only extant species native to the Americas. It is the third largest feline after the tiger and the lion. Their native range extends from the Southwestern United States and Mexico, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Apart from a possible population in southern Arizona and the lower south of New Mexico, the species has been largely extirpated from the U.S. since the early 20th Century.
The Jaguar resembles the leopard, but it is usually larger, with behavioral characteristics closer to those of the tiger. They prefer dense, forested habitation. The Jaguar is largely solitary and is a stalk-and-ambush predator.
Gestation for Jaguars lasts 93-105 days, and females will give birth to up to four cubs (typical litters consist of two). The mothers do not tolerate the presence of males after giving birth (due to fear of infanticide). The young are born blind, and their eyes open at about 2 weeks. The cubs are weaned at three months, but they remain in the den for six months to learn hunting and life skills from the mother.
The Jaguar is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. Numbers are declining due to habitat loss, international trade of body parts, and being killed by humans who see the cat as a pest (fear from farmers and ranchers). Although reduced in numbers, their range remains extensive.
Father, Kabah (left) and mom, Seraphina (right):