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Jul 25, 2012

Rescued jaguar, Lucky Boy, progressing in rehabilitation at the Zoo

Two weeks ago, the Belize Wildlife Conservation Network (BWCN) was alerted that a black jaguar was in distress at the Ballum Na Resort in Punta Gorda. The jaguar was frail and deteriorating. A second jaguar on the property had recently starved to death, so BWCN partnered with the Forest Department and the Belize Zoo to transport the jaguar to the zoo. It was a perfect fit for the zoo’s rehabilitation programme which also facilitates studies by international researchers, who claim that the Belize zoo is the only place in the world where they can gather extensive data on the hormones, size/weight and color structure of the endangered species. It took some preparation but tonight, Bosch who is now re-named Lucky Boy, is on the road to recovery. News Five’s Delahnie Bain visited with Lucky Boy today and has this report.


Delahnie Bain, Reporting

After being neglected and starved while in captivity in Toledo, this malnourished black jaguar was rescued last Thursday and is the newest resident at the Belize Zoo. He was aptly renamed, Lucky Boy, since he was at death’s door when he was rescued. Animal Management Supervisor, Humberto Wohlers, was among the team that transported Lucky Boy from Indian Creek Village; he says the jaguar was so weak that they could not move him immediately and sedating him was too risky.


Humberto Wohlers

Humberto Wohlers, Animal Management Supervisor, The Belize Zoo

“It was a concerted effort between the Belize Zoo and the Forest Department to rescue this very emaciated jaguar, a jaguar that was left abandoned in a resort in Indian Creek. It took us a couple days before we set up the real trap to transport him to the Belize Zoo as we saw the situation, not using any sort of drugs to transport him. This was because of his health conditions that using drugs wasn’t the best way to go. So we designed a special transport box, a trap box, and we took time to train him—it was a one day training—and once he was comfortable in the crate, we closed the door and we started the transport back to the zoo.”


Wohler says they made several stops on the long drive from Indian Creek to make sure the jaguar was okay. Six days later, he has settled in at his new home, and the Founding Director of the Belize Zoo, Sharon Matola has started the rehabilitation process.


Sharon Matola, Founding Director, The Belize Zoo

“He’s an exceptional jaguar, that’s all I can say. When he came here he was pretty weak and confused, which told me that he had to be in Zoo ICU—intensive care unit—but you know in two days he was readily eating out of my hand and in three days, he learned to give a high five and he knows his new name is Lucky Boy, he’s got his own song and he’s really recovering in good shape and good time.”


Sharon Matola

With advice from a wildlife vet, who specializes in big cats, Lucky Boy was placed on a special diet.


Sharon Matola

“When you saw him Delahnie, you think let’s feed him, let’s feed him, let’s feed him; he’s so thin. That’s the worst thing you can do because you have to do it on a gradual system so that it’s digested or it also could be very detrimental. None of us really thought about that, but our doc did. So he’s been given, not only a good diet but a strategy on how to take that diet and turn it into pure muscle and good stuff inside. He gets beef liver and beef and boiled eggs and a special cat food that we are so lucky folks brought down for us. We can’t buy it here; you cannot buy it in the United States without a prescription but it’s high protein critical care cat food and he is responding beautifully.”


But it will take months of work before this cat is ready to be integrated into the general zoo exhibit.


Sharon Matola

“He needs to get his fur in shape, he needs to get the lesions off of him, we had fecals taken of him, he has worms so we need to clear that up. There’s a lot that—you can’t just say oh he looks good, we’ll put him in. he needs to be medically checked and if there’s anything wrong at all, all of our cats are taken very well care of so that diseases aren’t passed and they have a life that exhibits their care. So I can’t say, I really don’t know. Our goal is to have him out on exhibit as a Christmas present to Belize. So that’s a long time but sometimes that’s how long it takes to make sure that everything is okay.”


Matola explains that Lucky Boy was at the Ballum Na Resort for at least ten years, but his temperament indicates that he was not always neglected.


Sharon Matola

“He definitely reflects a situation where he was not mistreated when he was in PG. I think that’s import for people to know. Something happened, something unpleasant happened; I don’t know what happened but this is a cat that was given very good care for a long time or else he wouldn’t behave this way.  And let me tell you, we have had problem jaguars that come to this zoo and they just charge the fence and charge the fence and it takes days and days and days of intensive working with them—you nearly have to move in with them, carefully, until they really calm down. But with Lucky Boy, it was so much quicker and so much more on a minable level.”


With the addition of Lucky Boy, there are now fifteen jaguars at the Belize Zoo, some of whom are still in rehabilitation. He is, however, the only black jaguar, since the one before him, Ellen, died of cancer in 2008.  Delahnie Bain for News Five.


The Belize Zoo extends special thanks to Forest Officer, Jazmin Ramos, his intern Charles, Tony Garel and Vladimir Miranda who helped transport the jaguar to the zoo.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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6 Responses for “Rescued jaguar, Lucky Boy, progressing in rehabilitation at the Zoo”

  1. Shocked says:

    Somebody should go to jail for this. Cant believe people can be so cruel

  2. Storm says:

    A great effort in an important cause. Our zoo may be small but it is exceptional in every way. And to my mind, large black cats are among God’s most beautiful creations. At least, when they are healthy, sleek, and have good coats — hopefully Lucky Boy will get there soon!

  3. wondering says:

    oooooo i want one :)

  4. BMNJ says:

    Sharon Matola is exceptional!!

  5. rubs says:

    thats right, arrest the owner off ballum nah, i was there yrs ago and the jaguars were strong & beautiful, then they charge and arm and a leg to guest who wanted to rent the house with jaugars on the fence. come on BELIZEAN lets do something

  6. elaine says:

    it looks like a friend of mine black and endangered…. yes black males either in captivity, slowing dying away or soon dead out.

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