,The Orange County Zoo has welcomed a juvenile jaguar to its new Large Mammal Exhibit, according to a zoo news release.
Mickey, an 11-month-old from Arizona, joins two orphaned mountain lion sisters rescued in Thousand Oaks and two other large cats. A mountain lion and another jaguar. He came from the World Wildlife Zoo. According to its website that zoo and aquarium has the largest collection of endangered wildife in Arizona.
The new exhibit, the largest expansion in the zoo’s history covers two acres, about 86,000 square feet. In addition to two up-close public viewing areas, the new exhibits features climbing platforms, a waterfall and artificial rock walls.
So far the new exhibit has been a success. County Supervisor Donald P. Wagner says the exhibit has attracted “record numbers” of visitors.
Mickey’s arrival comes during challenging times for both large cats. Jaguars (Panthera onca) are the biggest members of the cat family in North and South America. They have been driven to near extinction in the United States and their habitat is threatened in Central and South America.
A few males appear to be traveling into Arizona and a formal petition to reintroduce them to the United States has been filed. Since males roam the presence of breeding females is needed to establish actual presence in an area.
In Central and South America jaguars face habitat fragmentation. Efforts to reintroduce them to areas from which they have been driven are also underway.
Mountain lions (Puma concolor) face a mixed future. They are considered “Least concern” by conservationists. This cat has the longest north south range of any feline. Mountain lions are found from Canada south to Argentina. However, they face local extinction in some areas. California is believed to have a large population, but they are threatened by traffic and other threats. A mortality map shows California danger zones. CalTrans, local government and conservationists are working to reduce traffic danger. Projects like Liberty Canyon may help both species.