A few years back a friend asked me what would be the first thing I would buy if I inherited a vast fortune or otherwise came into being filthy rich.
“A jaguar,” I replied.
The friend looked a bit confused and replied, “A jaguar? I always had pegged as more of a truck guy, not a luxury sports car buff.”
“No I meant, an actual jaguar. You know the kind with the beautiful spotted coat and big, razor sharp claws.”
I love big cats and if I had to narrow down a favorite it would be the jaguar. Tigers are a close second but there is something about jaguars that have captivated me in a profound way for the last couple of decades.
A big part of it has to do with having the amazing blessing of getting to work with captive jaguars for a couple of years while I was in college. One cat in particular named “Tasha” stole my heart as we used her as an ambassador animal for the refuge where she resided T&G photographer Gerald Burleigh and I even got to take her to get root canal surgery once.
By being in close contact with these amazing cats, it was evident they are smart.
As detailed in John James Audubon’s book Quadrupeds of North America, the jaguar actually goes fishing. No, not just hunting down fish in shallow streams, but also actually luring them in on purpose.
“The jaguar is reported to stand in the water out of the stream and drop its saliva, which, floating on the surface, draws the fish after it within reach, when it seizes them with the paw, and throws them ashore for food,” Audubon said.
The Arizona Fish and Game Department’s official profile of the species notes that they are a patient hunter of fish. Jaguars are reported to wait by the edge of the water and hit the surface with their tail to lure fish into range of their paws.
The intelligence of the jaguar is legendary.
Audubon noted that military officials said if jaguars attacked them, they would always take out the leader in the group first as to confuse the rest. While that is a bit of a stretch, it does show the uniqueness of these cats has been evident for many years and even then they were enshrouded in mystery.
And they still are.
Did you know jaguars are native to the United States?
We’ll learn more about that in the second installment coming soon…
Chester Moore, Jr.