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Elmwood Park Zoo’s Jaguar Cubs Are a Nice Surprise

1_Elmwood Park Zoo - Jaguar Cubs

Elmwood Park Zoo is excited to announce that their female Jaguar, Inka, has given birth to two cubs. The brother and sister were born in the early morning hours of January 24, and the zoo's animal care team has done everything in their power to make sure mom and cubs are safe and comfortable.

Inka and the cubs have been under constant observation since their discovery on the morning of the 24th. The cubs look great, are actively nursing for long periods of time, and are very vocal. Inka is a very attentive mother; she's so attentive that it took nearly a week before the staff was able to separate her in order to examine the cubs.

2_Elmwood Park Zoo - Inka and cubs

3_Elmwood Park Zoo - Inka and Cubs Nursing

4_Elmwood Park Zoo Jaguar Cub ScalePhoto Credits: Elmwood Park Zoo

The Pennsylvania zoo's male Jaguar, Zean, is the father of the cubs. Inka and Zean were directly introduced for the first time in October 2016; previously they had only been able to view each other between the fencing that separates their exhibit spaces.

The zoo is currently wrapping up construction on a brand new exhibit facility that will be home to the Jaguars. "Trail of the Jaguar," is slated to open in the spring. The decision was made to first introduce Inka and Zean in their older exhibit rather than the new facility so that their exciting first encounter would be on comfortable, familiar ground rather than a new and foreign area.

The first day of their introduction was October 12, 2016, which coincided with Inka's heat cycle. Staff witnessed the Jaguars exhibiting breeding behavior on the 12th, and then again on the 13th and 14th. Inka and Zean began to exhibit signs of aggression toward each other on the 14th (which also coincided with the end of Inka's cycle), so they were separated once again. The chances for a successful conception were slim for a couple of "first-timers," which is why the birth came as somewhat of a surprise.

The cubs are the first Jaguars born in 2017 within an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility. Their birth was recommended and planned by the AZA’s Species Survival Program (SSP).

Jaguars are classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, due to the continued loss of their natural habitat. The Jaguar SSP manages a genetically diverse population of 84 Jaguars in over 40 AZA accredited zoos all across the country.

Of the 3 SSP-managed cubs born in 2016, the two born in October at the San Antonio Zoo came from the pairing of Zean’s brother and Inka’s sister. The other cub, a female, was born at the Tulsa Zoo in March.

Inka and her cubs will be off exhibit and out of sight from the public for the next few months. They will be transferred into the new "Trail of the Jaguar" facility when the animal care staff determines that they are ready for the move.

Until they make their debut, the public can find periodic updates about the cub’s progress via the zoo’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EPZoo