For immediate release
Jaguar Siblings, Salsa & Onca, Celebrate 10th Birthday at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Saturday, October 8, 1:00 p.m.
October 05, 2011 - Jacksonville, Fl -
Two of the original jaguars to occupy the national award-winning Range of the Jaguar exhibit at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will be celebrating their 10th birthday on Saturday, October 8. The female jaguars, named “Salsa”, (melanistic/near black) and “Oncal” (tan with black rosette spots) were born on October 7, 2001 at the Baton Rouge Zoo in Louisiana.
The birthday “bash” will begin with the crowd singing “Happy Birthday” at 1:00 p.m., immediately followed by the two enrichment cakes being appropriately hunted and eaten by the honorees. Guests will be served cookies and can sign an enlarged birthday card.
Soon after their birth on October 7, 2001, the two cubs, who were rejected by their mother, were sent to the Jacksonville Zoo. The Zoo’s River Branch Foundation Animal Medical Center became their temporary home, where they were housed in an incubator and fed every three hours. They went on permanent exhibit at the Zoo on April 5, 2002.
Even as adults, still today, the siblings act like playful kittens when they first go into their exhibit in the morning as they stalk, pounce and wrestle with each other. Guests often see the jaguars through the floor-to-ceiling window of the Palm Plaza Café, which offers an “insider’s” look into the exhibit.
“It has been a pleasure—not only for me, but for our guests—to watch these two female jaguars grow and mature and become such a great part of our Zoo experience,” remarked Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ Supervisor of Mammals Sheryl Staaden.
Jaguars, Panthera onca, are the largest cats in the Western Hemisphere. They once roamed from the southern tip of South America north to the region surrounding the U.S-Mexico border. Today significant numbers of jaguars are found only in remote regions of Latin America – particularly the Amazon basin. Jaguars are still hunted for their attractive fur. Ranchers also kill them because the cats sometimes prey upon their livestock. Jaguars are classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
For more than 96 years, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been dedicated to inspiring discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experience in a caring environment. From its humble beginnings in 1914 with an animal collection that consisted of only one red deer fawn to the 92 acre Zoo today that features more than 1,800 rare and exotic animals and over 1,000 unique plant species, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has become one of the top zoos in the nation. Preservation of sustainable biodiversity is a key mission of the Zoo. The Zoo is a non-profit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is open year-round, seven-days-a-week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located on Jacksonville’s north side at 370 Zoo Parkway, one-half mile east of I-95. For more information, go to jacksonvillezoo.org.