Babette the baby Jaguar met her first pumpkin this week – and the event was caught on camera by Tulsa Zoo staff.
Babette has been practicing her big-cat skills (as seen in this recent ZooBorns post) and she put those formidable talents to use attacking two large pumpkins delivered by zoo keepers. The mighty little Jaguar bit, pounced, swatted and successfully subdued the large orange vegetables.
Photo Credit: Aaron Goodwin
Video Credit: Beth Wegner
Why did zoo keepers give pumpkins to the Jaguars, which eat only meat? The pumpkins served as enrichment for the cats. Zoos provide novel items like new foods, scents, boxes, and “toys” as enrichment to stimulate animals physically and mentally.
As a cub, Babette is naturally curious and energetic. She has become a fan favorite since her birth was announced in September when she was about six weeks old. Born June 29 to female Ixchel, Babette was named after her father Bebeto, who died of age-related complications in April.
Babette will play an important role in the future of her species by someday breeding with an unrelated male as part of the Species Survival Plan managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Jaguars are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to the loss of rain forest habitat in Mexico, Central America, and South America.