Jaguar

Chincha is a male Jaguar that came to Dartmoor Zoo from Parc des Felins in 2014. We very much hope that he will be part of a breeding programme to help with numbers of this incredible species which are rapidly declining, mainly due to human causes such as hunting for fur and by farmers because they go after cattle and habitat loss due to deforestation. Their range has decreased drastically, it used to cover the whole of South America except for the Southern tip and west coast, and went up as far as the southern parts of the United States.

In size the Jaguar is the third largest feline after the tiger and lion, who you can also see here at the Zoo. They are the largest big cat in the Americas and are largely solitary. Territories do not overlap and males and females only come together for mating. They enjoy swimming and Chincha has a moat he likes to go in. In the wild they can be found in dense rainforest which does make it hard to be able to determine exact numbers.

They are the apex predator in their habitats and is important as they play a key role in stabilising ecosystems and regulating the populations of the animals they hunt. They have a wide and varied diet of meat, including tapir and capybara who you can see in our South American paddock. They have an incredibly strong bite and can bite through the skull of it's prey, they are incredibly strong in body also, one paw swipe to the skull can kill smaller prey. You can see how stocky and muscly he is just by looking at him. A natural killer. They are also great climbers and do roar, which sounds a bit like a cough!

Chincha is the usual colour of Jaguars, however about 6% have melanism which mean they are entirely black, although their spots are still visible if you (dare to) look closely. Black jaguars are also informally known as black panthers. Albinos are known but are not as frequent.

Male jaguars reach sexual maturity at the age of 3 or 4. and females at around 2. They do not have a specific time of year for mating and she will be in season for 6-17 days out of a 37 day cycle. After mating females provide all the parenting and the male and female have to be separated in captivity as there is a high risk that the male will kill the cubs. Gestation is 93-105 days and the female will have up to 4 cubs, usually 2. They are born without sight which lasts for 2 weeks. They stay in the birth den for 6 months before leaving to go hunting with their mother. After 1-2 years they will leave the mother to establish their own territory.

In the wild they live between 12-15 years, and in captivity up to 23. They are hunted by humans for their skins and because they kill cattle for food. Their habitat is also being destroyed by deforestation and numbers are decreasing. As well as the work that Zoos do to help conserve the jaguar, another popular method of conservation is ecotourism and reserves have been set up for this purpose to look after the animals.