Audubon Zoo female jaguar having serious health issues

Photo provided by Audubon Zoo

NEW ORLEANS — Workers at the Audubon Zoo say its female jaguar is experiencing health issues.

The jaguar’s name is lx Chel.  She’s 21-years-old.  Zoo workers say the life expectancy for a jaguar in the wild is 12-15 years.

According to a statement from the zoo, the jaguar was diagnosed with renal insufficiency about a year ago.  Workers say it’s a common illness especially for older cats.

The zoo’s staff is monitoring the animal’s condition and providing the best veterinary care possible, the zoo’s statement reads.

“Many of the animals in our care are geriatric,” the zoo’s Senior Veterinarian Dr. Bob MacLean says in the announcement.  “We’ve made marked improvements in medical care in the zoological profession over the last couple of decades. We do have to pay close attention to them to make sure their quality of life is good and that we are taking appropriate care of them.”

The female jaguar was born in the Guadalajara Zoo in 1997 and was acquired by the Audubon Zoo in 1998.  Since then, she’s given birth to five cubs as part of a program called the Jaguar Species Survival Plan.

Both the zoo’s male and female jaguars have been kept behind the scenes while the jaguar exhibit is being improved.  In July, the male jaguar, Valerio, escaped from the habitat and killed nine other zoo animals.  Zoo workers determined that Valerio was able to bite a hole in the steel netting at the top of the jaguar habitat and climb out of it.