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PAT THE CAT TURNS 17!

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Junior Buddy the Jaguar is probably the most famous jaguar in the world. His annual birthdays have exposed hundreds of people to the magnificence of his species. There is another international superstar jaguar out there, however, and his name is Pat the Cat!

He was once a feared cattle-killer in the Honey Camp lagoon area in Northern Belize.  Rescued and brought to the Zoo, Pat began a new life full of adventure. It was not possible to release Pat the Cat back into the wild. It has been proven repeatedly that these injured, behaviour-altered jaguars will return to their old habits; cattle, sheep, dogs would remain the preferred dinner menu, rather than wild prey such as deer, peccary and armadillo.  When this happens, the cats are usually destroyed by fearful farmers. With assistance from the government of Belize and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, this beautiful jaguar was sent to the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin, USA.   

After a warm welcome in Milwaukee, Pat became a star over time.  A remarkable literacy project evolved from Pat the Cat’s adventures.  His story was told in a beautifully illustrated book, PAT THE GREAT CAT: A JAGUAR’S JOURNEY, and was written by children in Milwaukee and children in Belize.  The Standard 4 classrooms in Belize were all given a copy of this wonderful resource.  As a result, so many children and teachers are now more aware about jaguars and the problems these charismatic cats are facing.

Pat the Cat and his “girlfriend,” Stella, also did their part for jaguar conservation, and have had 3 gorgeous cubs. “Zean,” “B’alam,” and “Francisco” have brought the rescue program full circle, from Pat being saved from certain death, to the contributions to a healthy captive jaguar population for future conservation efforts.

At 17 years of age, Pat truly is living proof of how deep the connections between people and wildlife can go, even thousands of miles away. He has survived the difficulties of a rapidly changing and shrinking environment, found a new home and family, and sent the conservation of his species to new heights. Happy Birthday, Pat, with love from Belize!!

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