SAN DIEGO — A 4-month-old jaguar cub is safe at a San Diego County animal sanctuary while state wildlife officials try to track down the people responsible for abandoning the animal.
The cub is under the care of the Lions Tigers & Bears exotic animal rescue in Alpine, which shared a brief update Wednesday but declined to provide many specifics, as the case remains under investigation.
“The cub was abandoned, and is under the jurisdiction of California Department of Fish and Wildlife,” Bobbi Brink, the sanctuary’s founder and director, said in a statement. “A lot of people are asking about the cub, who the sanctuary is calling Eddie. He is still a baby and requires round the clock care. The sanctuary is providing him with veterinary care and a comfortable, safe environment while this investigation unfolds.”
Patrick Foy, a captain with CDFW’s law enforcement division, told FOX 5 there was little concrete information on who was responsible for bringing the cat into the area. Part of Foy’s job is to crack down on the trade of “restricted species” in California, with more common exotic animals including monkeys, venomous snakes and even native mountain lions. Jaguars, however, are “very uncommon.”
“When you have one show up like this, yeah, it’s something we’re going to take seriously,” he said by phone Wednesday. “This is definitely a problem.”
Foy said that in many cases, people think they can keep a big cat as a pet but quickly get overwhelmed and abandon them when cubs grow larger. Jaguars in particular take a “tremendous amount of care,” Foy said, calling them “very dangerous” animals that are also very sensitive, easily falling sick without a proper environment.
The captain said it was possible the jaguar came over from a state where species were less closely regulated. He said lax enforcement in some states, like Oklahoma, enables traffickers. “If you don’t control it, you end up with ‘Tiger King,'” he said, referencing the Netflix documentary phenomenon about big cat breeding in the U.S.
While the captain said investigators currently had little to go on, tips from the public are often the key to cracking such cases. Anyone who might know of the people responsible for bringing a jaguar into the area or trying to keep it as a pet can contact the state’s CAL TIP line at 888-334-2258.