Bearizona jaguar saves life of jaguar at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo

Posted at 8:24 AM, Dec 13, 2016

A well-loved jaguar at Bearizona can now add life-saver to his list of attributes after helping out a Tucson jaguar.

According to Bearizona officials in northern Arizona, Tucson's Reid Park Zoo called about the health of their elderly 20-year-old jaguar, Nikita, who was in need of a blood transfusion.

Veterinarians at Reid Park Zoo first noticed Nikita feeling lethargic and performed tests showing severely low red blood cell count. She needed blood immediately -- blood from other jaguars.

Her first blood transfusion was from domestic house cats and a second from her sister, Simone, but she needed more.

Bearizona's veterinary team decided Bagheera, the wildlife park's young male jaguar, could be of assistance. Fortunately Bagheera has the same blood type as Nikita.

This week, Nikita is recovering after a successful blood transfusion. Zoo officials say she is doing "wonderful" and is already back in her exhibit.

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Wild jaguars are a threatened species and are rare in natural habitats, including the southern United States. There are limited studies about their health and health therapies, like these transfusions.

Dr. Alexis Moreno, one of the vets caring for Nikita, will be among those helping with future research contributions for advanced animal medicine.