The OC Zoo has a new resident in its big cat exhibit
In spring of last year, the OC Zoo in Orange unveiled its brand-new Large Mammal Exhibit, with two young, orphaned mountain lion sisters, a young, injured male mountain lion and an adult jaguar. The OC Zoo recently welcomed a new resident to the exhibit — Mickey the jaguar.
OC Zoo Curator of Education Marcy Crede-Booth says the leopard-patterned, 1-year-old Mickey is the genetic brother to the existing black jaguar, Ziggy, who is 3 1/2. Both jaguars are from the Wildlife World Zoo in Arizona.
If you’re lucky, you might spot zookeepers working with the big cats through husbandry or enrichment training. Husbandry training involves having the feline show his or her paws, open their mouth or stand up in exchange for a delicious treat so that the zookeeper can perform a health inspection.
“We do those specific behaviors with the animals for generally medical reasons or being able to maintain their health,” says Crede-Booth.
Enrichment training is fun for the public to watch and the cats to do, but also serves a purpose.
“We will do some behavioral enrichment,” she says. “So that just means we’re trying to stimulate the animal both physically and mentally. Kind of do what they might do out in the wild as well.”
That could mean hiding meatballs for them so they can simulate foraging food. Or placing large, plastic balls for them to play with.
“Sometimes they appear like fun toys, which they are, but they are causing the animal to get up and move and run and do some of the things that they might be doing out in the wild.”
Watch our video @parentingocmag on YouTube to see these large, magnificent cats in action.
By Jessica Peralta