Spotted: Two Jaguar Cubs at the Fort Worth Zoo
July 10, 2015
Jaguar births mark conservation achievement
FORT WORTH, Texas – Two female jaguar cubs were born at the Fort Worth Zoo on May 11, marking the seventh and eighth jaguar births since the opening of Texas Wild! in 2001. The cubs, Luna and Estrella (the Spanish words for “moon” and “star” respectively), made their public debut today in the Brush Country exhibit in Texas Wild!.
The cubs weighed less than 2 pounds each at birth and were born with their eyes closed. Over the last few weeks, the new Zoo babies have been spending time with mom Xochi (“zo-she”) in an off-exhibit area to nurse, bond and develop necessary skills like walking and climbing. The cubs’ parents, Xochi and Pepito, are also parents to Sasha, born at the Zoo in 2013, making Sasha, Luna and Estrella full sisters.
Multiples are common in jaguar litters. Often, the female’s first pregnancy will produce only one offspring, and subsequent litters will contain multiple young. This is Xochi’s second litter of cubs and first set of multiples. A typical litter size is one to four cubs and gestation lasts between 95 and 110 days. As Luna and Estrella continue to grow, their fur will fully develop into adult coloration, designed to provide camouflage in forest surroundings. At about 6 months old, they will stop nursing and live on a carnivorous diet. The cubs’ eye color will slowly transition from bright blue to a permanent green and the cubs will likely weigh between 100 and 250 pounds and measure 6 feet in length (excluding the tail) by adulthood.
The Fort Worth Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Jaguar Species Survival Plan (SSP), a breeding program that maintains a healthy, self-sustaining population of vulnerable animals to help prevent their extinction.
In the wild, a jaguar cub is dependent on its mother for protection from predators, for food and guidance until it is about 2 years old. The cubs will stay at the Fort Worth Zoo for the next 12 to 18 months and then be moved to another AZA zoo to help maintain genetic diversity within the species. Older sister Sasha now resides at the Sacramento Zoo based on a recommendation from the SSP.
The jaguar is the largest cat in the Western Hemisphere (third largest in the world behind lions and tigers) and represents the only “big cat” found in the New World. The jaguar is historically native to the southern United States. Due to habitat alteration, the jaguar can now be found from the U.S./Mexico border south into Central America.
The nationally acclaimed Fort Worth Zoo has been ranked the Best Zoo in Texas by Yahoo Travel, the No. 5 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide, the No. 1 attraction in the DFW Metroplex by Zagat survey and a top 10 zoo or aquarium by FamilyFun magazine and TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards. The Zoo is home to more than 500 animal species and a world-famous reptile collection, housed in the Museum of Living Art (MOLA). The institution’s focus on education and conservation is second to none, enhancing the lives of more than 1 million visitors a year.
For further information, contact:
Alexis Wilson, Communications Director
Avery Elander, Public Relations Manager