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Birthday Bash for Junior Buddy

Belize's most famous jaguar and "national treasure," Junior Buddy, hit the big 1-0 last week! Over 100 guests joined us to celebrate this very special decade of jaguar conservation in grand fashion. 

Our VIP guests included Junior's long time friends from St. Agnes Anglican School down the road, as well as our "jaguar expert" colleagues from around Belize.

After a review of some cool feline facts about jaguars, everyone joined TBZ Director Sharon in a rousing rendition of the Junior Buddy Song, complete with "dancing jaguars" in the crowd.

Then, all were led into the Zoo to meet and greet the birthday boy.  It was very clear sensed that something different was occurring in his neighbourhood.  Flags flew, posters featuring his handsome face, and yes, a hefty fan club present all signalled to Junior that this was no ordinary day.True that, Junior!

Along came Education Director Jamal Andrewin, bringing the birthday boy’s massive bone on a flower-festooned tray.  The kids were thrilled!  What a perfect “birthday cake” for a much-celebrated Jaguar.  The big bone treat was tossed over the enclosure fence and PLOP – landed perfectly in the middle of Jr Buddy’s swimming pond.  After a quick nose dive, the happy jaguar dragged out his special prize and to everyone’s delight, munched down on it in full view.

More fun was in store. A Bouncy House brought down the house. Zoo Educator Rebecca Teul and her volunteer team had face-painting, “pin the tail on the jaguar,” sack races, and many other games ready for energetic party guests.  Meanwhile, our Zookeepers were taking other guests through “Jaguar Jungle” to meet a very special lady-jaguar, Springfield, who is none other than Junior’s mom! Everyone loved hearing the amazing story of this very sick, sheep-hunting jaguar that was saved and brought to the Zoo, only to give birth to another special jaguar 10 years ago.

A decade later, Jaguar Ambassador Junior Buddy is credited with opening the eyes and hearts of thousands of people, on behalf of his magnificent species. Happy Birthday to the most special Jaguar in the Whole Wide World!

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