This is the third successful reproduction of this species for the Tulsa Zoo. Jaguar mom, Ixchel, has been consistently attentive and protective. Staff says she never lets her little one out of sight. The pair went on exhibit in October, and Zoo visitors now have a chance to see the lovely mother-daughter duo.
Zoo staff voted to name this new cub in honor of her late father, Bebeto, who was humanely euthanized in April due to age-related complications.
In the wild, Jaguars prefer to stalk and ambush their prey, and Babette currently practices her developing skills in playtime with her mother. As with mothers of all species, this can be a test of patience, and Ixchel endures annoying moments of her daughter awaking her from naptime to play with her tail. Babette also like to ambush mom from inside boxes.
Staff reports that the young Jaguar is also working to perfect another important big cat skill—climbing. According to Keepers, she learned to climb out of the nest box earlier than previous Jaguar cubs in their care, and once she was given access to the exhibit, it took no time at all before she was climbing up into the trees and onto the higher perching.
Despite her dabbling with independence, Babette is still a ‘mommas-girl’ and is taking a bit longer to wean. This includes being a bit particular and picky with the solid food she is given as well.
The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a feline in the Panthera genus, and is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas. The Jaguar is the third-largest feline after the Tiger and the Lion, and the largest in the Americas. The Jaguar's present native range extends from the Southwestern United States and Mexico, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina.
This big cat closely resembles the Leopard physically, although it is usually larger and its behavioral and habitat characteristics are closer to those of the tiger.
Its preferred habitats are usually rainforests, swamps, and wooded regions, but Jaguars will also live in scrublands and deserts.
The Jaguar enjoys swimming, and it is largely a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain (an apex predator).
The Jaguar is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat. Although international trade in Jaguars or their parts is prohibited, humans frequently kill the species (by poachers and farmers who view them as pests).
The birth of Babette at the Tulsa Zoo was in conjunction with the Jaguar SSP, or the Species Survival Plan®, which manages species in Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos across the nation. There are currently more than 100 Jaguars in North American-accredited AZA zoos, while it is estimated that 10,000 Jaguars currently exist in the wild.