Jaguar Makes First Public Appearance at Phoenix Zoo Since Dental Surgery
Picture: Courtesy of Phoenix Zoo
The poor kitty was captured by a callous Mexican rancher in 2006 and kept in a small cage for 10 months, where he ruined his choppers trying to bust out. Authorities seized the animal in January 2007, according to the Arizona Republic in the above-linked article, but he suffered with pain in a Third-World zoo until coming to Arizona.
Lauren Strait, spokeswoman for the Phoenix Zoo, tells New Times that Mexican authorities negotiated a deal in which Lucero would receive free dental work in return for a year's stay at the Phoenix Zoo. Local veterinary dental specialist Chris Visser (left) performed the work at no charge, assisted by his son, Valley dentist Louis Visser.
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Brightening Lucero's smile took more than a drill and a shot of nitrous oxide. The Vissers worked for six hours on the jaguar. A second surgery was required a month later that took three hours, Strait says. Lucero then began a mandatory quarantine program until last weekend.
"He's definitely in less pain," Strait says. "He's a lot less aggressive."
Jaguars used to roam all through Arizona until development wiped out their habitat. The occasional wandering male still crosses the international border into the state, as a much-touted motion-detecting camera shot proved a few years ago (right).
We spotted Lucero on Sunday afternoon as he paced restlessly inside his relatively spacious and well-furnished (for a jaguar) cage. He's an impressive animal, to be sure, with his wide jawline and paws larger than a Great Dane's.
If you like big cats, you'll want to see him before he's deported.