Skip to Content
male jaguar Tesoro looking up towards the sky in habitat
All Animals


Jaguars are the largest cats in the western hemisphere, and the third largest overall; only lions and tigers are bigger. Jaguars and leopards look similar, but you can tell them apart if you look closely. Jaguars are larger and have shorter, thicker tails. They often have spots inside each rosette which leopards lack.


Animal Facts

Scientific Name

Panthera onca


Remote regions of South and Central America, particularly in the Amazon basin. Small numbers are still present in North America.

Location in the Zoo

South America’s Pantanal

Cool Animal Fact

Jaguars live alone and define territories of many square miles by marking with their waste or clawing trees.

How We Help Save Them

Jaguars are the largest cat species in South America. Thanks to the influx of ecotourists’ dollars, local communities can benefit monetarily from the wild animals they share their home with, but some tour operators get too close to otters and jaguars interrupting their behaviors and distressing them, leading to potential conflict and population declines.

To address this issue, the Zoo provides support and training for Brazilian conservation partner, Projecto Ariranhas. This partner trains local guides in the Porto Jofre Region of Brazil to lead jaguar-safe tours so that local people and wildlife in the region can safely and successfully benefit from ecotourism.

Where to See Tesoro Inside the Zoo

Guests might feel as if they are being watched from the side and above as they move along the forest trail. And they are! The largest cat species in the Americas, the jaguar, will keep a keen eye on visitors from several vantage points in their new habitat.

Houston jaguar Tesoro can be seen inside the main habitat or above the path in a fully enclosed jaguar bridge. Sculped by craftsmen to look like a fallen tree, this jaguar highway will act as a path for the cats to move from their behind-the-scenes night house to the spacious new habitat. On some days, a jaguar might have the opportunity to lounge up there for as long as they like, watching guests pass below.