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Athena, the Black Jaguar

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Athena, the Black Jaguar
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Image by tsbl2000
This was one mean cat and you had to be very careful as she would try to swipe anyone who stayed too near to the bars. I wouldn’t fancy meeting her in a South American jungle.

"WHF, The Big Cat Sanctuary has one Jaguar, a melanistic female called Athena. She was born in Croatia at a collection called Zagreb Zoo and remained there for three years. At 3 years old she moved to Paradise Wildlife Park (PWP) where she lived for a further 5 years until coming to live with us.

While at PWP she was frequently mixed with a male for breeding purposes, but this never resulted in a pregnancy. She is missing the tips of both ears and has had extensive surgery on her left front paw and face from unsuccessful introductions to the male.

Athena is a very intelligent cat and will often test every inch of the enclosure. She knows where ‘weaker’ areas are and how to try and convince people to move closer to the mesh! Athena is known to carry out ‘mock seizures/fits’ in order to get people into her enclosure and also holding her breath immediately after being darted for dental treatment.

Athena although being captive born still displays very similar behaviour to that shown in wild animals. She is very silent on foot, having a stride length of approximately half a meter and will often stalk guests, keepers and photographers. Activity is usually more common early afternoon and into the evening. This is encouraged by carrying out enrichment feeds. Boxes are very popular as they can be bitten and dragged around the enclosure similar to a carcass. Food items can also be suspended to encourage climbing activity and improve overall fitness. We also use a variety of synthetic smells and herbs which allow the cat to come into contact with unfamiliar scents as they would in the wild.

Jaguars are the largest cat species found within South America. As with the majority of the big cats they are solitary and only really socialize with others for breeding purposes. There are slight variations in the colour of the coat with black individuals being relatively common. These all black cats are often incorrectly referred to as black panthers. The coat colouration is very similar to that of a leopard, but there is a difference in the rosettes which in the jaguar have a small black dots in the centre.

Jaguar are also much more heavily built than the leopard with a longer face and much more prominent sagittal crest, giving the head a distinctly pointed top. Unlike many of the other cat species Jaguar are not adverse to water and are actually very good swimmers.

They have the strongest bite of all the big cats, exerting a bite pressure of approximately 1500-2000 pounds per square inch, (depending on source material)." Source: thebigcatsanctuary.org/animals/athena/

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