Endangered Male Jaguar Cruising Southern Arizona
There are Internet cat stories, and then there are Internet cat stories. Big cat = big story.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Digital Library System A 2004 photo of Panthera onca, a.k.a. the jaguar: the largest North American cat and the only one that roars
The last time any human was aware of a jaguar north of the U.S.-Mexico border was 2009, when a series of total fuckups by allegedly well-intentioned people led to the death of Macho B in southern Arizona. Macho B was 16 years old, not a young stud by any means, but he probably had a few more potential anchor cubs in his loins for sultry Mexican lady jags he was bound to encounter on the prowl.
Thing is, that's what an American male jaguar has to do -- the last jaguaress seen in the States was killed in the 1960s. Photos released last week to the Arizona Daily Star under the Freedom of Information Act show that we now have another male loping around in Arizona's Santa Rita Mountains at least since last fall (he was photographed near Benson a year earlier), and he's got a lot of baggage -- not only is he burdened with being, as was Macho B, one of a kind, but his need to roam freely across national boundaries in order to procreate makes him into potent ammunition for people who'd rather not have hundreds of miles of solid border fence, whether that's for environmental reasons, political ones, or both.
Jaguars, like other panthers, love to swim and play in the water, and they prefer a rain-forest-style habitat, but they are just fine with northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S., too. The only larger cats are lions and tigers; jags are so big and strong that they will mess themselves up royally while escaping from a trap, which seems to have been the first mistake made with Macho B.
But their spot patterns are so distinctive that an individual, like the new guy pictured below, is easy to track any time he wanders by a camera for the U of A and federal government study on the impact of border activities on the jaguar population.
We think you should suggest names for this fella in the comments. Don't pet him, though. You know how most cats, large and small, kill prey by quickly and cleanly biting through the spinal cord at the back of the neck? Jaguars kill by quickly and cleanly crushing your skull between their enormous, powerful, cuddly jaws.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Aw, show us your pretty, pretty face.