The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is saddened to announce that one of its jaguar ambassadors, Tai, was humanely euthanized on Monday, May 1, at the OKC Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital.
At 19 years old, Tai was one of the Zoo’s oldest big cats and a geriatric animal. The Zoo’s carnivore and veterinary care teams had implemented a geriatric care plan for Tai and were monitoring him for age-related issues including arthritis and allergic dermatitis. Even with medications and supportive treatments, Tai’s health continued to decline, and the Zoo’s veterinary and carnivore care teams knew his quality of life was deteriorating and made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him.
Tai actively participated in his own healthcare including voluntary blood draws and fluid administration which were immensely helpful in his senior years. While our cats undergo regular wellness exams, increasing the frequency of blood draws ensures that caretakers are able to monitor for minor health changes that could alert them to an onset of an illness, such as kidney disease, which is common in geriatric cats. Tai regularly received allergy injections, a process that our carnivore caretakers were able to train him for and earn his trust for him to participate in voluntarily each time.
Tai arrived at the OKC Zoo from the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts when he was a year old. Caretakers share that Tai enjoyed an elevated view and being as high up as possible and could often be found on top of the tall rocks in his habitat or in hanging hammocks as he got older. He was extremely fond of herring and salmon and his favorite enrichment items to interact with were hanging feeders. Jaguars are found through Mexico and most of South America and are the largest cat in the Western Hemisphere and third largest overall, with only tigers and lions larger. Once located throughout the US and Mexico, commercial hunting and severe habitat loss caused a significant loss in the cat’s population numbers. Tai was one of many residents in the Zoo’s Cat Forest habitat, home to many big and small cats from around the world including Sumatran tigers, jaguars, fishing cats and clouded leopards. You can see our six-year-old female jaguar, Zia, in her habitat at Cat Forest.
Photos: Mandi T.