For immediate release
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ Beloved Black Jaguar, Salsa, Found Dead
October 11, 2013 - Jacksonville, Fl -
It is with great sadness that Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ reports the passing of its iconic black jaguar, Salsa, Friday morning.
The Zoo’s animal staff started their morning routine with the jaguars, reporting normal behavior with all jaguars, including Salsa. Keepers left the area briefly and upon their return, they found she had died. The cause of Salsa’s death is currently unknown and is being investigated. Zoo veterinarians speculate that she had an underlying condition as no trauma was visible when she was found.
“Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ staff is mourning the loss of Salsa,” said Tony Vecchio, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. “Salsa was loved by many of our guests and we are sad that she is no longer with us. Her presence will be missed, but her legacy will always remain.”
Salsa was born October 7,, 2001 at BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo in Baker, Louisiana. She and her sister, Onca, arrived at Jacksonville Zoo two days later. The sisters were hand-raised by keepers, creating an extraordinary bond with our Zoo staff. Salsa is a decedent of Zorro, the Zoo’s first melanistic (black) jaguar from the 1960’s whose lineage traces to the majority of black jaguars found in North America. Salsa was a favorite among Zoo guests, not only for her black coat, but also for her fondness of swimming and fishing in her exhibit pool.
“All staff at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens are deeply saddened by the loss of Salsa,” said Dan Maloney, deputy director of conservation and education at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. “The Zoo animals are like extended family to us and Salsa was one of the best known and loved residents here at the Zoo. She will be greatly missed.”
About Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
For nearly a century, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been dedicated to inspiring the discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experiences in a caring environment. Starting in 1914 with an animal collection that consisted of one red deer fawn, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens now has more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 plants. It has won national acclaim for its South American Range of the Jaguar exhibit and has the largest botanical garden in Northeast Florida. The Jacksonville Zoo is a non-profit organization and is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). It is open year-round, seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Christmas day and is located on Jacksonville’s north side at 370 Zoo Parkway, one-half mile east from I-95. For more information on the Zoo, visit http://www.jacksonvillezoo.org.