A Jaguar Named Like A Bird

The Belize Zoo has a new addition to its family. Her name is Chiqui the Jaguar. She was found abandoned in the Chiquibul forest but FCD rangers came to her rescue in May. Now as we told you, the Zoo recently lost its beautiful black Jaguar named Lucky Boy and they are still heartbroken about his death. While no other Jaguar can replace him, the zoo managers can preserve Lucky Boy's memory by keeping Chiqui happy and healthy. Well, the founding Director Sharon Matola and her team plan to do that and more. Today, the zoo crew officially welcomed Chiqui to her new home with a short ceremony and viewing. Matola told us more about how Chiqui overcame all odds and what her story represents.

Sharon Matola
"She was drowning, literally drowning and crying and the FCD forest rangers heard this strange sound and went to this sound and saw a baby cub trying to crawl out of the stream bed and literally dying

"No one knew what happened to her mother and luckily forest rangers found her and brought her to the wonderful doctor Isabel who got her back into somewhat good health and then we got her and she was kind of a messed up kitty cat.

"You can't release them back into the wild once they have been tamed and feed, they don't have a mom, they need a mom; so guess who became the mom? (Laugh)…."

Kids singing
"My name is Chiquibul, I'm gonna tell everybody that jaguars rule because I'm Chiquibul, my name is Chiquibul, I'm going to tell the whole world that jaguars rule. I was saved from disaster by FCD and the doctor took great care of me, now I'm living at the zoo very happily because I am Chiqui, Chiqui, Chiquibul."

Sharon Matola 
"For Chiqui, it was time investment, it is time investment, it is getting her into a comfort zone and you study what makes them most comfortable with her it was paper balls to play with but especially stuffed animals and as she grew, the bears got bigger and bigger and finally I ran out of big bears and now she is more jaguar like so we give her bones."

"The significance of her is a two way street, number one she is going to show people of course the magnificence of her species but also draw attention to her birth forest which is the Chiquibul forest, which is a forest under risk. We have to remember this is 8% of our country, it is rich in natural resources and we need to save it for the future, and that is what she is all about a symbol for a forest."

"She is part of the zoo now and every day she will be out there and day by day she will become more comfortable with her home and she will love her admirers."

Chiqui is 6 months old.

Channel 7

Chiqui, the six-month old jaguar, has a new home!

Today, the Embassy representatives participated in an exciting event at the Belize Zoo, including a ribbon cutting ceremony for Chiqui's new home and unveiling of the donor plaque (thanks to the individual members of the Embassy community for your generous support)!

Local preschool students' performance made the festivities memorable!


After many months living behind the scenes, Chiqui the jaguar has finally moved into her new home on-site at the Zoo! We have been fundraising tirelessly since we received her in early June to create a comfortable living space for this special cat. Thanks to the generous support of friends and donors both in Belize and abroad, this became a reality and was celebrated yesterday with a wonderful ceremony.

Zoo Director Sharon Matola opened the celebration with a energetic performance of "Chiqui's Song," with the help of our little friends from KLIC Preschool.

Representatives from Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic and Friends for Conservation and Development - FCD Belize were present to say a few words and carry out the official ribbon cutting for the exhibit.

Belize Tourism Board representatives unveiled the plaque to honour donors who contributed significantly to the Chiquibul Exhibit Project. Also present was "Miss Belize Universe” who helped us launch a stunning new poster aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of the Chiquibul and all of Belize’s forests. Finally, officials from Belize Forest Department rounded off the ceremony with the unveiling of two life sized “mother and cub” jaguar statues, highlighting the celebration of this magnificent species, and the pride our country has in being able to declare that they still roam our forests.

The Belize Zoo thanks everyone who was part of Chiqui's journey to becoming a star ambassador for jaguars and Belize's forests. All of her admirers who have been following her story can now visit the Zoo and see her in person!

Click photos for more pictures!