This image is of a male jaguar residing at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The 7,100 square-foot jaguar habitat, built on a hillside on Rainforest of the Americas’ northwest end, features a waterfall and pool in which the animals can swim, deadwood trees on which they can climb, and abundant landscaping through which they can wander, such as tall grasses, shrubs, ficus trees and banana plants. The exhibit also offers upgraded Zoo visitor experiences by optimizing viewing, with two glass areas allowing opportunities to see these magnificent animals up-close, and engaging interpretive graphics, all designed to inspire appreciation for preservation of one of the iconic animals of the rainforest environment. Since 1900, jaguars, which are “near threatened,” have disappeared from much of their range due to persecution by livestock ranchers, degradation of habitat, and human hunting of jaguar prey.
Jaguars, the third largest of the cat species and largest in the Americas with the male averaging between 125 and 250 pounds, hold great religious and cultural importance in many cultures of Mexico, Central America, and South America. They once roamed from the southern tip of the latter continent north to the region surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border. Today the largest population of jaguars inhabits Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Jaguars are also found in Mexico, Guatemala, and Argentina, while rare in the rest of Central and South America. Historically, jaguars were found in the southwestern United States, but are now thought to be extinct in that area. Jaguars live in rainforests, swamps, grasslands, scrublands, deserts and lowland semi-deciduous forests.