Happy International Jaguar Day! The jaguar is the largest and most powerful cat in the Western Hemisphere and can be found throughout Belize. Here are six fun things to know about jaguars in Belize.
- Jaguars played an important part of Ancient Maya society and were revered for their power and strength so it’s no wonder you can find many references of the jaguar on effigies at Lamanai and mythology. Bonus: The ancient Maya thought that at night the sun would journey into the Xibalba (underworld) and transform into a night jaguar.
- Belize has the only jaguar preserve in the world located in the Cockscomb Basin. The Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1986, still provides a safe haven for other endangered cats, birds, tapir and howler monkeys.
- In 2003, The Belize Zoo introduced a jaguar rehabilitation program. The program is a way to safely remove problem jaguars from human populated areas and relocate them to the zoo for research and education. To date, over 20 jaguars have been saved through this conservation program!
- Belize has one of the healthiest population of jaguars in Central America with an estimated 800-1000 jaguars. This makes Belize the perfect place to learn about jaguars. Research projects are currently being led by Panthera and Virgina Tech.
- Find the jaguar on our $50 and $100 bill! An image of the Jaguar was included in the design to function as a security feature. Hold up your bill next to a light and see it for yourself!
- The jaguar’s strength is seen in its muscular body and its powerful bite that delivers a fatal blow to its prey. Naturally, this makes it perfect for a name and mascot in Belize’s local sports. The Black Jaguars is the name given to several of the athletic teams at Belize’s national university (University of Belize).