Photo courtesy of Dane Jorgensen.
The Birmingham Zoo will soon be welcoming Khan, a jaguar from the Jacksonville Zoo.
This spring, the Birmingham Zoo will welcome a new member to its family: Khan.
Khan is a 3-year-old male jaguar who will be transferred from the Jacksonville Zoo to Birmingham this spring and placed in his new exhibit in late March or early April.
Zoos may acquire new animals for a number of reasons, such as the need to diversify the gene pool within a certain species of animal, said Kerry Graves, vice president of sales and marketing for the Birmingham Zoo.
As an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoo, the Birmingham Zoo is committed to following the Species Survival Plan, which makes sure the genetics of a species are diverse while promoting reproduction, said marketing coordinator Kiki Nolen-Schmidt.
“The intent is … at least by the end of the year or the beginning of next year, to target a female to bring down [to the zoo],” Graves said.
Khan’s new home will be what is currently the gorilla exhibit in the social animal building. The exhibit will be renovated to include a water feature, Nolen-Schmidt said, and it will also have various educational components.
Graves said the zoo’s educational department is also working on special programs about jaguars.
“From an education standpoint … I bet a lot of people don’t know the difference between a jaguar, a leopard and a cheetah,” Graves said. “People need to know about them and appreciate them.”
Because most of the world’s big cats are endangered, with only about 15,000 jaguars left in the wild, Graves said the zoo is hoping to increase conservation awareness with their new jaguar and eventually other big cats.
“We’re just excited,” he said. “This will be our first [new] big cat exhibit in a while.”