Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat is encouraging citizens to tip off the zoo and Forestry Division about people who have illegal wildlife in their possession. Rambharat said illegal wildlife was being smuggled from nearby South American nations to T&T. He said the latest was a jaguar that was dropped off at the Emperor Valley Zoo on Friday. Rambharat said it was not unusual for people to contact the Emperor Valley Zoo to hand over an animal they can longer take care of, are unwilling to care for, or, in a few cases, they no longer want to keep and risk prosecution.
Friday's call and drop off at the gate of the zoo was not unusual except that the delivery in the protective crate was a young jaguar, obviously smuggled into the country, without a permit and without the appropriate tests. The jaguar has been examined by vets and quarantined.
He said, "It’s the frightening side of the illegal trade in wildlife particularly out of Venezuela. This one was surrendered to us but my concern has always been around those people who purchase or get these vicious animals as pets and later abandon them when they get older. To a casual observer, this looks like an ocelot but it is a relatively young jaguar. It’s about 30 inches long. We’ll continue to encourage people to tip us off via the soo or Forestry Division and to report any suspicion about illegal wildlife."