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Baby jaguar at Florida zoo turns one

Reported by: Glenn Glazer
Email: gglazer@wptv.com
Last Update: 8:44 am

Baby jaguar turns one year old

WEST PALM BEACH, FL–At the Palm Beach Zoo, back beyond the tranquil water and wooden paths, there’s a party brewing!

“Happy Birthday Maya,” yells a group of children as they look into a cage.

It’s a party for Maya, the baby jaguar.

“Big day at the zoo, it’s Maya’s first birthday. So not only do we get to celebrate Maya’s birthday, we’ve got the children here, we have all kinds of festivities,” said Keith Lovett, Director of Living Collections for the Palm Beach Zoo.

Jaguars are an endangered species, and only the Palm Beach Zoo and a handful of other zoos, are successfully breeding them.

“So this is a very important program, not only for guests that come to see this magnificent species, but also for the worldwide conservation of this species in general,” said Lovett.

So what does a one year old jaguar do on her birthday? You know, the typical one year old jaguar things.

First things first, a little dip in the pool and then a little stroll on over to get a photographer’s camera wet.

Then a little birthday piñata, although Maya has to figure out what the heck it is first. After trying several different angles of attack, success! She tears the piñata down from its chain. What a big girl Maya has become in just a year.

The question is, what is next for Maya? Typically cubs only stay with their moms for about a year and half or so.

“The most important thing, our responsibility is to make sure she gets into a breeding situation and that she has an excellent long term home. So whether that’s here or at another great zoo, we’re going to be happy either way,” said Lovett.

Soon the partygoers file out, leaving Maya and what’s left of her piñata to relax. But she seemed to enjoy the company so maybe you should stop by and say hi, while Maya’s still hanging out in West Palm Beach.

“It’s unique to be able to watch an animal grow up at your local zoo. So, it’s a great opportunity for the children and the adults alike,” said Lovett.

http://www.wptv.com/content/news/centralpbc/westpalmbeach/story/party-maya-birthday-one-year-old-palm-beach-zoo-gl/byH4pRaxCU2Soj0D0ghiBg.cspx

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://wbigcatrescue.org