Led by Dr George Kolias, the lead veterinarian at Cornell Vet School in New York, this informative workshop was enthusiastically attended by many and received strong and positive review. Veterinarians from Belize and Guatemala joined Forest Department officials and zoo staff, UB students and their instructor “Jaguar-Man” Dr. Bart Harmson, Birds Without Borders researchers, and noted jaguar researcher, Omar Figueroa, for two days of wildlife discussions and practical examinations.
Key focus for the discussion part of the workshop was the theme “know your animal prior to any medication strategy or anesthesia regime”. There have been cases where animals have died during an operating procedure, due to their not being in sufficient health to have toxic “knock down drugs” in their bodies. This was a major concern about our tranquilizing Lucky Boy for a necessary thorough examination. So, we waited over three months post-Lucky Boy-rescue. As he put on weight and became noticeably stronger and more spirited, the wildlife workshop was carefully planned. All were then confident that his physical condition could accept the heavy drugs, scheduled to be darted into his beautiful jaguar body.
Due to receiving a steady regime of enrichment training, Lucky Boy was not in “super-stress mode” when the vet team approached to give him the drug-dart. Our boy is very used to human contact, receiving quite a few “high fives” from zoo visitors. He also hears a fair amount of guitar strumming (and seems to even enjoy the “Lucky Boy song”), licks “blood ideals”, and even gets his favourite log sprayed with Obsession cologne! The cologne acts like a “jaguar cat-nip”, and Lucky Boy responds by rolling on his log, and caressing it.
Dr. George Kolias is conservative about the useage of tranquilizing drugs. After a successful “knock out”, Lucky Boy was quickly moved to the exam table. Various procedures were efficiently put into place. Everyone took a guess at his weight. And everyone was wrong! The highest weight guess was 150lbs. Ready for this? Even though Lucky Boy still needs to put on additional weight, he currently weighs in at a whopping 175 lbs! And our black jaguar is no small fry. Measuring him from the tip of his tail to his nose, this big black cat is 6’8”!
Blood was drawn, which will later reveal to Dr. Kolias and our staff, many particular elements of his physical condition. A mouth exam was next. And an overall inspection of his physical state occurred before he was gently carried back, still in jaguar-dreamville, to his management pen.
Important follow up then took place. Someone stayed with Lucky Boy until he woke up from his drug-induced sleep. In the event that something would go upside-down and backwards, having him monitored was viewed as an essential “must-do” procedure.
The Lucky Boy exam indeed had a happy ending. Friendships formed, medical information about our rescued jaguar we previously did not know was gained, and recommendations due to the veterinarian findings, are now being discussed, which will ensure an even happier life for this superb black jaguar.
Lucky Boy meets his Belize public for the first time, on grounds at the zoo, December 12th!