From Sharon . . .
A first time proud Dad is Frankie, originally from Frank’s Eddy village on the Western highway, and now a happy resident at The Philadelphia Zoo. Frankie, with his Philadelphia Zoo exotic new name, “Jutai” has an inspiring story. Left as a cub in the forests bordering the community of Frank’s Eddy, it was believed that his mother was shot for preying upon cattle in the area. Less than one year old, Frankie was brought to the zoo in a sack. Immediately after "sack-release," he began receiving Belize Zoo tender loving care.
As Frankie grew, an important conservation program was also beginning to grow. And this one-of-its-kind program would a play a heavy role in the little jaguar’s future. Director Sharon Matola presented to the Forest Department, a conservation plan called the Problem Jaguar Rehabilitation Program. Rather than shoot cats who had become unwanted livestock predators, the zoo would safely capture the villain cat, and then, with time, patience and daily training, give them a new life. Their new jaguar profile? Jaguars who likely would have been killed for their predator crimes, would, instead, as “graduates” of the program, become important animals for research, public education and also, for captive breeding. Frankie, son of a cattle-killer, was considered a new-arrival to the Problem Jaguar Rehabilitation Program.
In USA zoos, there has been a strong need for new jaguar genes in order to keep the captive jaguar population at a healthy level. The Philadelphia Zoo, having a beautiful five star jaguar exhibit, was in enthusiastic search of a male jaguar who could meet the challenge of becoming one of these gene-giving “Super Dads.” At The Belize Zoo, we knew that young and sturdy Frankie could fill such an important role. If he would successfully mate with a female jaguar, a very important conservation objective would be met.
Frankie was introduced to beautiful “Kanga”, and their fondness for one another was noticed by many. And the very good news is, Frankie (Jutai) and Kanga have together made history. Just as May was beginning, Frankie and Kanga became parents! Thanks to conservation strategic planning formed at our Belize Zoo, the vitally important captive jaguar population in the North American zoo community, now stands stronger. Very, very PAWS UP!!