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Jaguar cubs at ARTIS leave their den for the first time

The two black jaguar cubs born at ARTIS on 28 June have now taken their first steps into the outdoor enclosure. The young jaguars stayed in their den for almost five weeks, spending most of their time sleeping and feeding from their mother. 

Their eyes, which were closed when they were born, only opened after about two weeks and are grey-blue initially. Gradually, the young animals learn to focus and their eyes start to show the yellow, green and orange shades typical of adult jaguars. Last Saturday, they took their first steps outside the den, with their mother following closely behind. She could be seen dragging some prey along with her for the cubs to take a look at. The public will be able to see the cubs in their outdoor enclosure occasionally from now on.

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Milk teeth

Jaguars (Panthera onca) don't have any teeth when they are born. Their milk teeth only start to emerge after about six weeks, but they use their rough tongues to eat small pieces of meat and slurp down meat juice. Over the next six months, the jaguars will be gradually weaned off their mother's milk and start to eat more meat. 

Black cubs

The two cubs at ARTIS are black. This doesn't say anything about their sex: the black colour is all down to a specific gene. It will only be possible to establish whether the jaguar cubs at ARTIS are males or females after about nine weeks.

Mating

Jaguars are solitary animals that only come together during the mating period. With this in mind, the new jaguar enclosure that was opened at the end of 2016 has been designed to enable two jaguars to live separately. ARTIS is part of the European breeding programme (EEP) for jaguars, under which it was decided to breed from the black male and spotted female at the end of last year. They were seen to mate a number of times and were separated once the female was pregnant. Female jaguars have a gestation period of about three to four months and raise their cubs by themselves. Cubs only start to live independently of their mother after one-and-a-half to two years.