She looks cute and cuddly, but look at those claws! Evita is a jaguar. Jaguars are native to South America and once roamed freely from the southern tip and north to the region surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border. Today, they can only be found in remote regions. The jaguar is now a “near threatened” (IUCN) species, meaning that it is near to becoming threatened. After that, “threatened” – the next step is extinction. Jaguars are the largest member of the cat family in the Americas and the third largest living big cat after the tiger and the lion. Evita came to the zoo in 1998 and was born in Florida. You can visit Evita in the Latin America area of the zoo.
Did you know?
- The jaguar swims well and often lives near water
- Some jaguar have black-on-black (melanistic) coloration, and are mistakenly called black panthers. Black panthers do not exist.
- Jaguars are solitary animals and prefer to live alone, except during mating season.
- In the wild, jaguars live around 12-15 years.
- Although rare, jaguars have been spotted in Texas, Arizona, southern California, and New Mexico.