There’s a jaguar on the loose in South-western Belize tonight – and the Forestry Department is hoping it can trap the cat before the night is over. The jaguar is domesticated and was kept as a pet by the Pollack family in the Ringtail area of the Cayo district. Ringtail is a village at mile 40 on the Hummingbird Highway near the Blue Hole.
The Polacks were authorized by the Forestry Department to keep the animal as a pet – but it escaped “several days ago.” According to Chief Forest Officer Wilbur Rosado, it has been spotted foraging in the area where it had been held. Sabido says that because it is domesticated, the jaguar cannot hunt and won’t wander far; they expect it to come back to its home area looking for food.
Multiple traps have been set, and the Forestry Department has called on the same persons who helped re-capture Max the Jaguar to catch this one. Viewers will recall that Max escaped from the Fosters in the Belize district near Democracia in October of 2010, and was caught and put down – only after he killed a neighbor.
Well, in this case, Sabido says the public risk is minimal because the location is remote, and it is a large, privately held area “fairly far removed from any urban or rural population.” Still, he stresses that they need to have it trapped as soon as possible and relocated to the Belize Zoo.
The conventional wisdom on the big cats is that there’s greater risk to the general population with a domesticated jaguar because it is accustomed to human contact, and because of that, it has no fear of humans, whereas wild jaguars avoid human contact as much as possible.
Sabido says that he hopes examples such as this can lead to the eventual discontinuation of the practice where permits are granted to private persons to hold wild animals when they don’t have the infrastructure to contain or the training to handle them.Channel 7