Meet Tequila, the vegetarian jaguar

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She loves her two teddy bears and she cannot stand the sight of beef. Picture: Sapa Pics

Cape Town - She loves her two teddy bears and she cannot stand the sight of beef.

Tequila, a four-year-old jaguar who resides at the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay, in the Western Cape, is extremely fussy, not only about her food, but also her shelter.

“For a jaguar she is one of a kind. She is very docile and loves for me to sit and chat with her,” the sanctuary's Jurg Olsen told Sapa.

“A very special young lady... and very ladylike in everything she does.”

Her fussiness began as a cub.

“When we have to hand-raise a cubby (for some or other reason), we start them off on a special milk formula,” explained Olsen.

“At approximately four weeks we introduce them to mincemeat and milk and then at eight weeks we introduce them to pieces of chicken. Tequila refused mincemeat from the first time we tried it with her and only took chicken.”

Tequila has never touched beef, and probably never will.

“She literally gets nauseous when she smells beef... and will start salivating and will walk away very upset,” said Olsen.

“Tequila is a chicken girl but she eats horse meat as well. If any of her food has touched beef she will not eat (it).”

Tequila also hates people entering her domain.

“She is very fussy about her night shelter, she only allows me to enter the shelter with her.”

The 55kg wildcat, who has a rosette shaped like a heart, loves her two teddies and “sucks on them” when Olsen sits with her during management sessions.

Her best friends are two young puma girls named Inca and Indiana, and a Bengal tiger boy named Juka.

Olsen says she watches over the two pumas like an older sister, and plays with Juka, despite a fence. They enjoy “running up and down”.

Tequila was born on Christmas Day in 2009. She came to Jukani in January 2010.

While jaguars closely resemble leopards, they are sturdier and heavier, and the two animals can be distinguished by their rosettes.

The rosettes on a jaguar's coat are larger, fewer in number, usually darker, and have thicker lines and small spots in the middle that the leopard lacks. Jaguars also have rounder heads and shorter, stockier limbs compared to leopards.

Jaguar females reach sexual maturity at around two-years-old, and males at three or four.

Jaguars are solitary, opportunistic, “stalk-and-ambush” predators. They are the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion.

“The jaguar has an exceptionally powerful bite, even relative to the other big cats,” Jukani says on its website.

“This allows it to pierce the shells of armoured reptiles and to employ an unusual killing method - it bites directly through the skull of prey between the ears to deliver a fatal bite to the brain.” - Sapa

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