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Chiqui the Jaguar's Big Debut

A very special jaguar cub came to us in early June 2016 after being rescued from drowning in the Chiquibul Forest. Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) rangers out on patrol heard cries of distress coming from the river and swiftly went to the rescue.


With the help of Belize Forest Department (BFD) officers, this sick, traumatized little cub was quickly transferred to the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic (BWRC) for top class vet care and recovery. Being so young, and without a mom to teach her to fend for herself in the wild, it was decided that a second home must be found for this brave little survivor. She was named “Chiquibul,” after her beautiful birth place, and brought to the Zoo for long term care.

Chiqui got around the lock care and attention behind the scenes, and slowly begun her training as an people-friendly “jaguar ambassador.” Meanwhile, TBZ campaigned tireless for months to create a comfortable living space on-site for this special cub. Thanks to the generous support of friends and donors both in Belize and abroad, this became a reality in November 2016 and celebrated with a wonderful ceremony!

Zoo Director Sharon Matola opened the celebration with a energetic performance of "Chiqui's Song," with the help of our little friends from KLIC Preschool from Belmopan City.

The heroes from FCD and BWRC who were a big part of Chiqui’s early days were on hand to say a few profound words and carry out the official ribbon cutting for her new home.

Belize Tourism Board representatives unveiled a plaque to honour donors who contributed significantly to the Chiquibul Exhibit Project. Also present was Rebecca Rath, our "Miss Belize Universe,” who helped us launch a stunning new poster aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of the Chiquibul and all of Belize’s forests. This stunning poster was created by her very own dad and long time Zoo ally, Tony Rath.

Finally, officials from BFD rounded off the ceremony with the unveiling of two life sized “mother and cub” jaguar statues, highlighting the celebration of this magnificent species, and the pride our country has in being able to declare that they still roam our forests.

TBZ thanks everyone who was part of Chiqui's journey to becoming a star ambassador for jaguars and and the mighty Chiquibul Forest. All of her admirers who have been following her story can now visit the Zoo and see her in person!


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