QUITO, Ecuador (Reuters) — A lucky jaguar in Ecuador is getting a new lease on life after recovering in a Quito veterinary clinic where she was brought with a shotgun wound some two and a half months ago.
The jaguar, which has been named D’yaira, was brought to a University San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) animal hospital with 18 shotgun pellet wounds.
One of the pellets was lodged in the big cat’s spinal cord causing paralysis in her four limbs and her tail.
USFQ veterinarian Andres Ortega and a team of doctors successfully removed the pellet from the spinal cord and have watched her slowly recover ever since.
“We managed to remove the pellet that was lodged in the spinal cord. Once this foreign object was removed, the spinal cord and the nerve axons around there started to recover, to such a degree that in the weeks that followed, she slowly started to have better mobility in her extremities. To the point that after two and a half months of being with us, she is almost 100 percent rehabilitated, physically,” Ortega told Reuters on December 28.
Now that D’yaira has bounced back, the team of veterinarians has given her the go ahead to leave her confined quarters and spread out in a new enclosure at an animal rescue centre in her native Amazon where they hope she will go back to her jaguar ways.
If she does well there, she will graduate to an even larger enclosure before finally be released back to the wild.
“In the new enclosure she’s going to have a lot more room to move around. She will be able to climb tree trunks. She will be able to sharpen her claws and develop her wild jaguar behaviours so that she won’t lose her instincts which, until now, we’ve tried to keep intact. After this enclosure she will go to another much bigger one with other structures, water holes, with tree trunks, hiding places, foliage. It will be a lot like what she will have in the wild,” Ortega said.
Though it is illegal to hunt jaguars and other wild animals in Ecuador, they are often the targets of poachers for their pelts or to prevent them from killing farm animals as ranchers have encroached on their territory in recent decades.
Smaller specimens are also trapped alive for the illegal exotic animal trade.
Though there is no guarantee D’yaira will recover well enough to be return to the wild Amazon, Ortega told Reuters the team is very optimistic given her remarkable recovery thus far.