EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Visitors at the El Paso Zoo can now watch the jaguar named Guapo getting his training and conditioning with his zookeepers.
“It’s kind of like training your dogs or cats at home, but we do it based all on what they’re willing to do for us after we build trust with them, but it’s also to help us take better care of them. So for instance Guapo is trained to take care of injections of in arthritis medication because he’s older, he’s actually 15 years old. So about every month he gets arthritis medication that helps move a lot better. And he does that willingly for us once we give them some treats that he really likes,” said El Paso Zookeeper Alison Bailey.
The jaguars receive positive reinforcement by hearing a whistle when they do what they are asked and by getting a piece
Zoo visitors who get the opportunity to watch the training seem to love seeing the interaction the wild animals have with their zookeepers.
“Everyone always thinks it’s really cool. Everyone always thinks they want to do it as well. And it is really cool and it’s something everyone would want to do, but it’s something important to note is that it does take a lot of work to be able to build that amount of trust with these animals because they are large dangerous predators,” said Bailey.
She said jaguars are the third largest big cat species only smaller than lions and tigers.
“Guapo himself is 15. Jaguars on the wild typically live 12 to 15 years in captivity they live up to 20 so, he still has some time with us. He’s also one of our best training cats for the Chihuahuan Desert. He is older, so he has a lot more experience under his belt, but he also really likes interacting with his keepers and trust them a lot, and is willing to do a lot for us.”
For more information visit elpasozoo.org.