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They grow up so fast!  Seems like only yesterday when our Junior Buddy was a new born cub at the zoo.  His mother, Springfield, came to us as a problem jaguar sheep killer from the Mennonite village of Springfield.

Infested with so many beef worm  maggots, she was weak and in a very sickly state.   Zoo personnel worked vigorously to save her.   And after continuous care, she regained a beautiful and healthy jaguar profile.    During her intensive care, we had no idea the young female jaguar was pregnant.  The birth of little Junior Buddy was a surprise!  Two days after he was born, Mama Springfield rejected her cub.  As a result, he was hand-raised by loving TBZ folks and trained to become an “Ambassador” for his species.   Junior readily learned how to “allie up” and to “sumersault”.  And loved doing these tricks for bit of applause and of course, a bit of chicken treat, too.   Jaguars have the largest brain to body weight than any of the big cats.  They are extremely intelligent animals.  Learning fun tricks was easy and a joy for youngster Junior Buddy.


His 9th birthday celebration confirmed the success of his role as a “spokes Jaguar” , an “Ambassador” for jaguars everywhere.  Over 100 children from the villages of La Democracia and Mahogany Heights were invited to attend the birthday bash.  After greeting his guests, Junior Buddy brought smiles and laughter to all when he dove into his pond to retrieve his “birthday bone” – a bone as long as the birthday boy himself!!  Junior Buddy happily celebrated his birthday by chewing on his birthday bone and happily playing with it for the rest of the day.

The children sang the Junior Buddy song while Zoo Director Sharon played the guitar.  The mood was so happy!  The importance of the day’s festivities emerged repeatedly.  All of the children who attended, due to the education received about the most incredible big cat in the Americas, our jaguar, are now certainly hard core jaguar fans.  And all agree that we must see our jaguar thrive on in Belize forever.

Education officer Deidra Mahler, led the way and saw that fun games and activities were enjoyed by all.  Oh yes!  “Pin the tail on the jaguar” continues to be a favourite game.  Then, to the delight of everyone, a birthday present to Junior Buddy was unveiled.  The chairlady from Mahogany Heights, Ms Raquel Vega, removed the cover from a beautiful jaguar mahogany carving.  It proudly sits in front of Junior Buddy’s favourite “meet and greet” resting log, and reminds all that our jaguars are rare, they are special, they need our protection.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUNIOR BUDDY!!!   You are such a TOP CAT!

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