(Panthera onca)




Facts about this animal

The Jaguar is a large, spotted cat, heavier built than the leopard, with a big head and a rather short tail. The head-body length is 110-170 cm, tail length is about 50-70 cm, barely reaching to the ground. It weights from 45 to 113 kgs, with females being somewhat smaller and lighter than the males. The coat is marked with numerous black spots in the form of large "rosettes", mostly with one or more central dots. The ground colour is golden or cinnamon-buff, the underparts and inner sides of the limbs are white with (solid) black spots.


The jaguar is a solitary animal, except when breeding or raising cubs. Capybara and peccaries are usually listed as its major food source, but tapirs, crocodilians, fish, snakes, birds and many additional species of small mammals are taken too. One probable reason that the jaguar occurs over such a wide geographic range and in a broad variety of habitats is that it is equipped to exploit large and small prey, in water and on land.

Did you know?
That the jaguar enjoys swimming or resting in a stream on hot days? Indeed the jaguar swims well and wades in water to catch fish.


Name (Scientific) Panthera onca
Name (English) Jaguar
Name (French) Jaguar
Name (German) Jaguar
Name (Spanish) Jaguar
Local names Amazonian native people: Iawa, Iawaraté
Argentina: Yaguareté
Belize: Tiger
Brazil: Onça-pintada
Colombia: Tigre mariposo
French Guiana: Tigre marqué
Peru: Otorongo
Suriname: Penitigri
Yucatan: Chak mo'ol
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Silvio Tanaka



Range From south-western United States to Argentina: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, United States, Venezuela
Habitat Tropical rainforests, arid scrub, and wet grasslands
Wild population Unknown (Defenders of Wildlife 2011)
Zoo population 323 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

Transport crates should be sufficiently large to meet legal requirements, sufficiently strong to prevent escape or damage to the crate and animal, and have an adequate number of handles. Basic design should allow free flow of air through multiple sides of the container. A double door design on each end of the crate should be used. The "inner" door on each end should have bars to contain the animal, and the "outer" door should consist of a thin panel of expanded metal that provides safety for the handlers. The doors on each end of the crate should travel vertically to facilitate animal transfer and contain a secure locking system. The crate should drain well, and absorbent bedding should be used to prevent the animal from being exposed to or lying in urine or excreta. The crate should be of a size that allows easy lifting, transport and movement through doorways.


The shipment should be organised in a way to minimise stress. The animal should have access to its transport crate for 2 weeks before shipment, preferably being fed within it. If an extended trip is anticipated, water and eventually food should be provided while the animal is in transit. Ideally one of the animal's keepers should accompany it during transport, providing for its care and helping it adjust to the new environment.


For air transport, Container Note 72 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Colin Burnett

Why do zoos keep this animal

The jaguar is an attractive big cat which is an excellent ambassador species for the increasingly threatened habitats in South and Central America. Generally, the species is declining, and maintaining viable ex situ populations of certain subspecies is certainly of conservation interest. The fact that the jaguar is one of the few cat species adapted to an aquatic environment makes it interesting also from an educational point of view.