HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The following is a press release.
Maya, the Hattiesburg Zoo’s new black jaguar, will make her long-awaited grand debut in her new exhibit on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m.
Maya is a 13-year-old solid black jaguar who joined the Hattiesburg family from Memphis in October. Though she is on long-term loan from the Memphis Zoo, Hattiesburg will likely remain her permanent home.
To celebrate Maya’s unveiling, the first 100 children through the Zoo gate starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday will receive a stuffed toy jaguar and special keepsake poster of Maya with her paw print autograph. Maya’s new exhibit will offer her more room to play and relax, a swimming pool, and a glass window that allows guests to interact with her in a safe manner.
Her exhibit formerly belonged to Sampson, who passed away in January of this year.
“Though Sampson is greatly missed by visitors and staff at the Zoo alike, we are excited to have Maya join our Hattiesburg family. She has a great personality and is a truly majestic animal. She’s already showing off for her keeper, and we cannot wait for the public to enjoy her,” said Stephen Taylor, Hattiesburg Zoo animal care manager.
Jaguars are the third largest cat in the world and the largest in the Americas. They are considered endangered through loss of habitat and are known for their hunting abilities.
“We are delighted to add another big cat to our zoo family, and we know the public will love her. We hope everyone will join us in welcoming her to Hattiesburg on Saturday,” said Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention and Tourism Commissions.
The zoo will open at 10 a.m. Saturday. Admission is $5, children under two get in free.