Zoom Presentation on May 31 – Restoring Jaguars to the American Southwest by Michael J. Robinson

Jaguar conservation efforts in the Southwest are important to helping to protect the complex ecosystem so important to humanity. The Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition will sponsor a special virtual presentation by Michael J. Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity on regional efforts to help bring back jaguars on Wednesday evening, May 31, 6:30pm Mountain Time on Zoom. To receive a link to the presentation fill out the form below.

Michael J. Robinson is a senior conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity in the carnivore conservation and the endangered species programs. He has worked for the Center since 1997 and lives in rural southwestern New Mexico within walking distance of the Gila National Forest.  Michael is the author of Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West (University Press of Colorado, 2005).

Excavated jaguar bones from Arizona, Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee and other U.S. states show that the largest felid species in the Americas, and the third-largest in the world, evolved in North America hundreds of thousands or millions of years before jaguars expanded their ranges southward to Central and South America.  Ancient Native American artifacts found throughout the U.S., including near El Paso, depict spotted, long-tailed cats; and oral histories from time immemorial describe jaguars, sometimes endowed with supernatural powers suggesting their cultural importance.  European explorers and settlers reported jaguars from the Carolinas to California, and killed them for their spotted pelts and to protect livestock.  In the 20th century, the U.S. government’s predator extermination program eliminated the last remaining breeding population of jaguars, which persisted in the Southwest until the 1960’s.

After jaguars were exterminated as a breeding population in the U.S., individual male jaguars continued to travel north from Mexico into Arizona and New Mexico.  Currently, just one jaguar is known to exist in the wild in the U.S., in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona.  The prospects for females to arrive, and for the natural beginning of a potentially viable population in the Southwest, were already low even prior to construction of walls across significant stretches of the international border.

New to the El Paso Zoo are a pair of jaguars in the new Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit.

Zoo keepers and educators team up for regularly scheduled Carnivore Training Programs featuring jaguars or mountain lions. The weekly schedule is posted here. To find out what cat is featured on any given day you can call the Education Team at 915-212-2823.

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