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Jaguar Cubs Born at Elmwood Park Zoo

The two cubs arrived just in time for the "Trail of the Jaguar” exhibit, opening this spring.

The Elmwood Park Zoo started the new year with some new lives: two jaguar cubs, born January 24.


One cub is male and the other female, the zoo announced February 3. The birth surprised zookeepers, who had introduced reluctant partners Zean (the zoo’s male jaguar) and Inka (a female) just last October. Their first meeting was rocky at best: each showed signs of aggression toward the other, and zookeepers had to separate them. But the cubs are nursing well and Inka is a protective mom — it was more than a week before she would let zookeepers get close enough to check out the babies. 

The two cubs, who don’t yet have names, are the first jaguars to be born in 2017 at a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). That organization promotes breeding through its Species Survival Program (SSP), which oversees a genetically diverse population of 84 jaguars in over 40 AZA-accredited zoos in the United States. The two “cousins” of these cubs were born to Inka’s sister and Zean’s brother at the San Antonio Zoo last fall.


This is great news for the species, which is currently considered “near threatened.” Defenders of Wildlife estimates there are only 15,000 remaining jaguars in the wild. Their natural habitat, which is now mostly in South America, is continually threatened due to deforesting efforts and other factors.


The birth could not have happened at a better time for the zoo. This spring, the highly anticipated “Trail of the Jaguar” exhibit is scheduled to open. They’re wrapping up construction now, and once the cubs and mother are ready, you’ll be seeing them there.


Want to see the cubs? You’ll have to wait a while. Currently, the cubs are nursing and still can’t see on their own. The cubs, along with mother Inka, will be kept out of sight and in the care of zookeepers for the next few months.

In the meantime, the too-cute cubs need names, and Elmwood is asking fans for suggestions. Send your ideas to naming@elmwoodparkzoo.org by 4 pm on March 15 to be considered.

Photographs Courtesy of the Elmwood Park Zoo.



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