The Elmwood Park Zoo announced the passing of Cali (pronounced “kah-lee”), an 18-year-old female jaguar, on Wednesday, July 9. She had been receiving chemotherapy treatment after being diagnosed with lymphoma in the fall of 2013. Zoo staff witnessed a substantial decline in Cali’s condition and made the decision to euthanize her Wednesday morning.
The jaguar, named after the Hindu Goddess Kali and whose name means “the black one”, was unlike typical spotted jaguars. Cali’s unique black coat was caused by melanism, a common condition among felines that is caused by an excess of the black pigment, melanin.
Cali was born at the Marion Nature Park in Ocala, Florida on September 19, 1995. She arrived at the Elmwood Park Zoo on January 1, 1996. Cali was paired with Anasazi, Elmwood Park Zoo’s 2-year-old spotted male jaguar. Although the original intention was to breed the cats, a lack of information regarding Anasazi’s lineage prevented the Zoo from moving forward with a breeding plan. Nevertheless, Anasazi and Cali remained close companions and could often be seen playfully growling at each other throughout the day. Anasazi passed away in the spring of 2013 at the age of 19 due to complications resulting from kidney failure.
Cali’s passing marks the end of an era for the Elmwood Park Zoo. The jaguar is closely related to the Zoo’s identity; a jaguar appears in the Elmwood Park Zoo logo and the jaguar exhibit has been one of the Zoo’s most popular attractions for twenty years.
The Elmwood Park Zoo has begun fundraising efforts for a capital campaign that includes plans for a brand new jaguar exhibit, as well as exhibits for its close relatives the ocelot and the jaguarundi. For more information on Elmwood Park Zoo’s capital campaign, please visit the “Support Us” section at www.elmwoodparkzoo.org.