The Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent, England, has recently given new hope to the world. The sanctuary welcomed a beautiful rare black jaguar cub to their family on 6 April 2021.
Black jaguars have been identified as rare and endangered, as only 10% of jaguars in the wild are black. The adorable female cub is now "growing bigger, stronger, and more mischievous by the day". Her birth marks a significant moment for the "near threatened" jaguar species – and she was welcomed into the world as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.
The 11-week-old cub, who is still called "Baby" until her name is decided, is the fourth black jaguar currently residing at the sanctuary. Her parents, Neron and Keira, who also live at the shelter, are two majestic jaguars.
Neron and Keira were first introduced in December 2019 to share an enclosure. Neron is a melanistic jaguar, which means that he has high amounts of dark pigmentation in his coat. This is due to an ancestral genetic mutation, which he managed to pass on to his daughter.
Neron and Keira fell in love from the moment they were introduced. "Keira is our most energetic and lively cat. She is a big bundle of energy. This contrasts Neron, who is an incredibly laid back and calm cat. You can really see when they interact with one another just how in love they are. Opposites do attract!" added the sanctuary.
Not long after their love blossomed, Keira became pregnant. Now, since the birth of her first baby, she has been the best mom. "Keira is a loving, patient, and wonderful mother. Her maternal instincts shine through as she feeds, grooms, and plays with her beautiful daughter, all hours of the day and night."
For now, Baby will stay indoors by her mom's side until she gets her vaccinations at around 14 weeks. However, every mom needs a break now and then. That's when the Keeping Team will "baby-sit" and carry out the necessary health checks and familiarization time.
The cute cub is stunning with her gorgeous black fur. Head Keeper, Briony, reveals, "Our gorgeous little girl was born at 11:10 a.m. and has gone from strength to strength ever since. I cannot believe how quickly she is developing compared to other big cat cubs, but this seems to be normal for jaguars. She was born with her eyes open, and walking strongly by two weeks old. Now, she is tearing around the dens, certainly making sure that Keira has her hands full."
Due to safety reasons, father Neron has not yet met his daughter, but they have seen each other from a distance. "Neron is enjoying some peaceful time either on top of his climbing platform or hiding inside his tunnel. We are excited for the day he gets to meet his new daughter in the future!"
The sanctuary is currently running a competition to decide on the cub's new name. The competition will end on 1 August 2021 but, until then, viewers have the chance to help decide on the baby's new name. Inka, after the South American Indian people; Inti, a Quechuan word meaning "Sunshine"; or Killari, a Quechuan word meaning "Moonlight".
Each vote costs £5 (around $7), and 25% of the funds raised will be donated to the sanctuary's jaguar conservation partners working from the University of Costa Rica.