New Orleans Audubon Zoo welcomes rescued young jaguar

The New Orleans Audubon Zoo has taken in a 7-month-old female jaguar that was rescued from wildlife trafficking, zoo officials announced.

The jaguar was rescued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums then asked the New Orleans zoo to care for it because it already has the experience and equipment to house jaguars. The zoo received the jaguar on Oct. 14

“This rescue effort was an amazing example of how zoos, government agencies, and conservationists work together for the greater good,” the zoo’s Curator of Primates Liz Wilson said in a statement. “She is adjusting well to her new environment.”

The Audubon Zoo has one male jaguar named Valerio. In preparation for the new jaguar, staff modified its habitat space by adding more jumping and climbing platforms. The female jaguar is now viewable to visitors in the habitat.

According to the museum’s statement, jaguars’ numbers are continuing to decrease in the wild, with estimates of around 15,000. The species is considered “near threatened” due to poaching, human-wildlife contact, and habitat loss.

Zoo spokesperson Annie Kinler said the jaguar does not yet have a name but staff would choose one for her once they get to know her personality better.

Kinler said the zoo would seek recommendations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums before deciding whether to mate the new jaguar with Valerio.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to provide more information about the rescue of the young jaguar, saying they could not comment on open investigations.

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