JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens says its staff is heartbroken over the death of one of its jaguars.
At 20 years old, jaguar Onca was experiencing declining health, and the zoo made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her, according to a Facebook post from the Jacksonville Zoo.
"Though we are awaiting results, it appears she might have been suffering from kidney failure and cancer," the post says.
Onca and her late sister Salsa came to the Jacksonville Zoo from Baton Rouge, the post says. She loved lying as high as she could get, whether she was on exhibit or behind the scenes.
Onca's favorite toy was a small black tire that she carried around with her. She is described as the most affectionate jaguar, whose keepers enjoyed seeing her rubbing her face on the mesh toward them when they walked into the building.
Onca was an "extraordinary ambassador for her species" and was a favorite for both guests and zoo staff, the post says.
"Jaguars face serious threats throughout the Americas, including human retaliation," the post goes on to say. "We partner with the Rupununi Wildlife Research Unit, who help create local solutions that mitigate human-to-jaguar conflict. In collaboration with villages, private ranches, regional groups, government agencies and others, they hope to develop local solutions to reduce this conflict and produce new management tactics and partnerships that benefit people and jaguars."
In February, a 21-year-old female jaguar at the zoo died after she was attacked by another jaguar. Zenta was mistakenly in the same enclosure with 12-year-old Harry while switching the animals out during a veterinary examination when the attack happened, zoo officials said. They called the attack a "tragic accident."