For the past several days, “Reina,” a 105 pound, 18 year old female jaguar, has been having episodes of lethargy and appetite loss. In an effort to determine what may be causing these issues, she was anesthetized yesterday afternoon and transferred from her habitat enclosure to the zoo’s animal hospital to undergo a series of examinations.
Zoo Miami Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Marisa Bezjian, was in charge of the Animal Health Team throughout the examinations. The procedures performed included a full set of radiographs, the collection of blood and urine, and an oral examination along with a tooth cleaning. In addition, she received a thorough abdominal ultrasound examination done by consulting veterinary internist, Dr. Luis Macho.
Initial results did not indicate any critical issues but did reveal the persistence of several small cysts in the abdominal cavity. These cysts had been noted during previous exams though their cause remains a bit of a mystery. The general belief is that they may be hormonal and advanced age related.
Reina has since been returned to her habitat enclosure where she has recovered well from the anesthesia and will continue to be closely monitored.
Jaguars are the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world after tigers and lions. They are found in tropical forests ranging from Mexico down into South America and have recently been seen crossing the Mexican border into the Southwestern U.S. Unlike most cats, jaguars are often found in and around water where they will hunt a variety of prey ranging from fish and caiman to deer and domestic livestock. They have one of the most powerful jaws of all cats with the ability to bite through large skulls and turtle shells. With an average lifespan in the wild of 12-15 years, they are considered Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.