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Rare Jaguar Dies In Jacksonville Zoo

September 11, 1986 GMT

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ The last remaining wild-born black jaguar in a North American zoo, whose bloodline is represented in most of the black jaguars in this country, has died at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Zorro, who arrived in 1967 when he was a year old after being captured along the Amazon in Colombia, sired more than 30 cubs and left his mark on the species in captivity, Penny Thompson, president of the Jacksonville Zoological Society, said Wednesday.

He contributed 12 sons and daughters to the black jaguar breeding programs in North American zoos, and by the early 1980s his bloodline was represented in 75 percent of the black jaguars in U.S. zoos, Ms. Thompson said.

Jacksonville was the first zoo in the United States to regularly breed black panthers. Its researchers proved that the black phase was not genetically recessive to the spotted jaguar. Two spotted parents cannot produce a black offspring.

Between 1973 and 1980, Zorro was the primary breeding jaguar at the Jacksonville Zoo.

In 1980, Zorro began to show early signs of joint deterioration in his rear legs and was returned in 1981 to an off-exhibit enclosure at the zoo, which he shared with a female, Onca, the mother of 15 of his cubs.

When Zorro’s condition worsened to paralysis of his hind quarters, Ms. Thompson said it became necessary to kill him for humane reasons. He was 20 years old when he died late Tuesday.

His sperm is being preserved for artificial insemination.