Baby jaguar debuts at San Diego Zoo

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A newborn jaguar cub was born at the San Diego Zoo on March 12. The baby can be seen in a special viewing area during play days.

A jaguar cub is the newest addition to the family at the San Diego Zoo.

Mother Nindiri welcomed the cub back on March 12 inside the jaguar den. The cub weighed in at a little over 2 pounds and has double its weight in the last two weeks.

The 18-day-old jaguar is the third baby for 7-year-old Nindiri. The sex of the cub is not yet known. It will be determined at the cub's exam next week.

Mom and cub had been spending most of their time off exhibit while the cub's eyes open and it starts to become steadier on its paws, but they made their Play Day debut Saturday in the cave bedroom so the cub could explore different terrain, "an important step in its development." Hay and a rock have been added to the cave area for the cub to play and investigate.

"First step is acclimating to the new bedroom... getting it used to the new sounds, the sounds of people, the public, the new smells," said senior keeper Chad Summers. "Mom and baby are doing fantastic out in the cave."

Visitors who want to see the newborn may spot the mom and cub in the cave viewing area during Play Days.

The jaguar is an endangered species. It's estimated that there are about 10,000 jaguars left in the wild, but their numbers are decreasing rapidly.

"Because it's a critically endangered animal, every birth is very, very important to us. We want to end extinction, here at the zoo, we are doing everything that we can to do that," said Summers.

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