Untitled-1Named in honor of one of the Valley’s most well-known and liked professional athletes, AZ Cardinal’s Larry Fitzgerald, the 2 year old adolescent jaguar “Fitz” is settling into his new two story habitat at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park. The new home has a climbing wall, perches, waterfall and pools suitable for the largest variety of feline found in the New World and third in size behind lions and tigers. The new exhibit retains some of the best features of the original exhibit such as an enclosed ledge that allows the cats to climb up and over zoo visitors, giving guests and animals a truly unique view of each other.

Over the next several weeks, zookeepers will continue to acclimate Fitz to the considerably larger space and water features, as well as, his new neighbors, the turkey and King vultures on display nearby.  Plus, Fitz is also slowly getting to know a new companion–an adolescent female that recently arrived at Wildlife World. Keepers are using his favorite enrichment items like scents from perfume and herbs to entice both animals to explore all their new home has to offer, including each other.

Male jaguars can reach up to about 200lbs and are known to have the strongest bite of any feline species.  Their stocky build enables them to climb with ease in their preferred rainforest habitat enabling them to stalk and ambush prey animals. Jaguars are also excellent swimmers. While most jaguars are yellow with black spots, a sizable fraction of the population, is black with black spots. Jaguars have an extensive range throughout Central and South America and were once found throughout the desert Southwest, including Arizona. Similar to many large vertebrate predators across the globe, jaguars face an uncertain future due to poaching and deforestation resulting in habitat loss and fragmentation. Many are killed as a result of increasing human-animal conflicts over space and resources.

The new habitat allows Wildlife World to move ahead with plans over the next few years to phase out, replace and redevelop the older exhibits on the zoo’s original grounds. As an USDA licensed, private institution, accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA), Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park receives zero taxpayer funding. No tax dollars have ever been spent to build or operate Wildlife World. This new jaguar exhibit opens on the heels of an all new outdoor sea lion exhibit, educational show, and public feeding that opened on Christmas.  The new show featuring the only marine mammals found in Arizona has been very popular with zoo visitors this winter.

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park is located at 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, AZ (SE corner of state route 303 and northern Ave.) We’re open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays.

Zoo exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last zoo admission is at 5:00 p.m.) Aquarium exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Daytime admission includes access to the zoo, aquarium and safari park.  Special reduced evening admission to Aquarium-Only is available after 5:00 p.m.

For more info: (623) 935-WILD (9453) or visit us on facebook and www.WildlifeWorld.com.