A newborn jaguar at the Philadelphia Zoo is the first there for its mom and dad, the first one born at the zoo since 1972, and a welcome addition to the world's population of a near-threatened species, according to officials.
The Friday birth also adds to the zoo's recent baby boom, which has included, since late last year, five prairie dogs, four red kangaroos, two common vampire bats, two Madagascar tree boas, a penguin, a tortoise, a giant river otter, a Titi monkey, a pied tamarin, a gibbon, an aye-aye, a magpie shrike, an ibis, and a kind of lemur called a sifaka.
The new jungle cat is too tiny - about 2 to 2.5 pounds - and the mother, Kanga, is too protective for keepers to get close enough to determine weight or even gender.
Kanga, a 10-year-old spotted jaguar who joined the zoo in October, has had six babies with other fathers at other zoos, according to Tammy Schmidt, curator of carnivores.
The cub is the first for 7-year-old dad Jatai, an orphan from Belize who came to Philadelphia in 2007.
The match was carefully arranged, with factors from genetics to dispositions carefully taken into account, Schmidt said.
If all goes well, the public should get to see the newbie in the fall, Schmidt said.
The zoo also could soon see its first-ever snow leopard babies.
"All of the suns, moons gods and anything else anyone would believe in were smiling on these species," Schmidt said. "It is really an exciting time for us."
Jaguars are found from the Southwestern United States to deep in South America, but, like other large animals, these big cats have literally been losing ground.
"Their populations are on the downswing, and they're not going to get better unless there's a major commitment to conservation and taking action to fully protect the species," Schmidt said.
For more about the zoo, go to www.philadelphiazoo.org.