A rare female black jaguar cub has been born at The Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent.
The adorable cub, which is being referred to as ‘Baby’ until she is officially named, has taken her father’s colouration of appearing black – a characteristic only affecting 10 per cent of the wild jaguar population, while the other 90 per cent have distinctive spots.
She 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.
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.
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.
‘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.’
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.
‘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.’