Zoo Grieves Geriatric Jaguar

Today, the Houston Zoo humanely euthanized its 19-year-old female jaguar, Cocoy.  The great-great-grandmother was born at the Guadalajara Zoo in Mexico and moved to Houston in 2006. She and her mate, Kan Balam (18), shared the habitat and even had several cubs together over the years. Due to the tremendous care provided to her by her keepers and the Houston Zoo veterinary team, Cocoy lived well beyond her expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.


The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after it became evident that she was in kidney failure. At her advanced age, dialysis was not a viable option and further treatments would not have added to her quality of life.

jaguar portrait

Cocoy has always been one of the zoo’s most exuberant and fastest training animals. Guests have long been able to recognize her by her shorter-than-average tail, due to an injury sustained in Mexico.

“When caring for aging animals, we first do everything in our power to make sure they have a great quality of life,” said Sharon Joseph, vice president of animal operations at the Houston Zoo. “We manage their diet and exercise, as well as their medication if necessary. It is never an easy decision to euthanize an animal, but it is one we make with the animal’s well-being as the top priority. With world-class animal keepers, four incredible veterinarians, and a complete veterinary clinic, our animals receive the best care possible, and that includes end-of-life decisions.”

Jaguar’s range covers South and Central America, with some venturing north into Mexico and southwestern US. They are listed as near threatened by International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and their numbers continue to decline mostly due to habitat loss.

jaguar landscape


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