Science

Adorable rare female black jaguar cub is born at a big cat sanctuary in Kent

A rare female black jaguar cub has been born at a big cat sanctuary in Kent.

The adorable cub, which is being referred to as ‘Baby’ until she is officially named, was born on April 6 to proud parents Keira and Neron.

Her birth is part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, and is an important breakthrough for jaguars, which are classed as ‘near threatened’ in the wild.

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The adorable cub, which is being referred to as ‘Baby’ until it is officially named, was born on April 6 to proud parents Keira and Neron

JAGUARS 

Jaguars exist in the wild in 18 countries in the Americas, from Mexico to Argentina, according to Wildlife Day

It explained: ‘During the 1960s and 1970s, the jaguar was heavily hunted for its fur; as many as 18,000 jaguars were killed each year until 1973, when the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) brought the pelt trade to a near halt. 

‘Today, jaguars continue to be hunted, mostly due to conflict with humans.

‘The jaguar is listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, though its status is in review and may be elevated to “Vulnerable” in the next year.’

Keira, Baby’s mother, was born at the Paradise Wildlife Park in 2017, before coming to the Big Cat Sancutary in 2019, where she was paired with Neron.

Baby has taken her father’s colouration of appearing black, which is a characteristic only affecting 10 per cent of the wild jaguar population, while the other 90 per cent have distinctive spots.

Briony Smith, Curator at The Big Cat Sanctuary, comments: ‘We are over the moon to welcome this little jaguar girl to our Big Cat Sanctuary family.

‘We had been monitoring Keira, the mother, closely for many weeks both in person and on the CCTV we had set up in her den. 

‘There was no doubt that she was pregnant, all we could do was wait with excitement for the big day.

‘On the morning of April 6th, we could see that Keira was unsettled and agitated and we knew that she had begun to go into labour.

‘This gorgeous little girl was born at 11.10 am and has gone from strength to strength since. 

‘I cannot believe how quickly she is developing compared to other big cat cubs and this seems to be normal for jaguars.

‘She was born with her eyes open and walking strongly by 2 weeks old.

Baby pictured with her mother Keira. Keira was born at the Paradise Wildlife Park in 2017, before coming to the Big Cat Sancutary in 2019, where she was paired with Neron

Baby pictured with her mother Keira. Keira was born at the Paradise Wildlife Park in 2017, before coming to the Big Cat Sancutary in 2019, where she was paired with Neron

Baby has taken her father's colouration of appearing black, which is a characteristic only affecting 10 per cent of the wild jaguar population, while the other 90 per cent have distinctive spots

Baby has taken her father’s colouration of appearing black, which is a characteristic only affecting 10 per cent of the wild jaguar population, while the other 90 per cent have distinctive spots

‘Now she is tearing around the dens and certainly making sure that Keira has her hands full.

‘She has bags of attitude, especially when her mother decides it’s bath time, and is outgoing and very curious. 

‘It is an absolute pleasure to watch her grow and develop and I can’t wait for the public to be able to see her when she is allowed out to explore her enclosure.’

'On the morning of April 6th, we could see that Keira was unsettled and agitated and we knew that she had begun to go into labour,' said Briony Smith, Curator at The Big Cat Sanctuary

‘On the morning of April 6th, we could see that Keira was unsettled and agitated and we knew that she had begun to go into labour,’ said Briony Smith, Curator at The Big Cat Sanctuary

Baby’s father, Neron, also has dark colouration – something only seen in around 10 per cent of jaguars 

Baby will be named by Big Cat Sanctuary’s supporters in the coming months, with a competition starting on May 25, raising funds for the charity.

Jaguars exist in the wild in 18 countries in the Americas, from Mexico to Argentina, according to Wildlife Day

It explained: ‘While the rare individual has been spotted in the US, there has not been evidence of a breeding population in the US in more than 50 years.

Jaguars exist in the wild in 18 countries in the Americas, from Mexico to Argentina, according to Wildlife Day

Jaguars exist in the wild in 18 countries in the Americas, from Mexico to Argentina, according to Wildlife Day

‘During the 1960s and 1970s, the jaguar was heavily hunted for its fur; as many as 18,000 jaguars were killed each year until 1973, when the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) brought the pelt trade to a near halt. 

‘Today, jaguars continue to be hunted, mostly due to conflict with humans.

‘The jaguar is listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, though its status is in review and may be elevated to “Vulnerable” in the next year.’

HOW HAS ‘OBSESSION FOR MEN’ HELPED SCIENTISTS STUDY BIG CATS?

In 2010, researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronz Zoo in New York experimented with a range of different fragrances and how two cheetahs reacted to them.

To their surprise, the cats spent more than 11 minutes sniffing and nuzzling up to a tree sprayed with Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men.

One program director in Guatemala has been using the perfume since 2007 to to try and determine the jaguar’s population in the jungle.

Roan Balas McNab who works in a a protected tropical forest uses the perfume’s unique properties to keep jaguars still enough so that he can take images of them using motion-sensitive cameras.

He said before using Obsession for Men researchers were unable to get these images.   

Obsession for Men launched in 1986, just as the Calvin Klein brand was pushing the boundaries of sexuality in advertising.

Early ads typically featured nude models and little else.

One of the main problems for scientists is being able to source enough of Obsession for Men as it is hard to find in shops near where much of the research is carried out.

A 120ml bottle of the perfume costs around £30 ($42) and scientists have learned to make it last.

According to experts, use of ‘scent lures’ is widespread among people studying wildlife.


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