taking action for


Oakland Zoo supplied every school in Mamoni Valley, Panama, with the first ever Guardians of the Jaguar program, inspiring 100% of the students in this fragile habitat to protect jaguars. We have also sponsored a state-of-the-art, large natural habitat in Guatemala for non-releasable jaguars.

The iconic jaguar is the largest wild cat in the Americas and the third largest big cat in the world! This wide-ranging carnivore plays an important role in ecology, culture and history. However, the species is losing ground. Jaguars are considered near threatened throughout their range. The decline of jaguars is attributed to anthropogenic (human) pressures that conflict with their basic ecological needs, as well as the illegal wildlife trade and climate change. Oakland Zoo is taking action for the jaguar and envisions a world where they are protected from threats, and allowed to roam free through their long and green corridor, from Arizona to South America.

A jaguar image taken from a camera trap in the Panamanian jungle

Conservation Challenges

Habitat Loss

Human expansion into the natural habitat of jaguars is causing drastic population declines of jaguars in some areas, and complete eradication in others. Large-scale land use modifications have created patches of habitat that reduce connectivity, making it hard for jaguars to thrive and safely travel across the landscape for food, mates, or territory. To make matters worse, expanded trails and roads provide hunters with easier access into the forest, allowing more vulnerable prey species to be hunted, which diminishes food sources for jaguar.

Human-Wildlife Conflict

As human populations increase and development spreads into natural areas, human-jaguar conflict has accelerated. Revenge killing for cattle loss or even hunting out of fear adds to the sad loss of the beautiful jaguar.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

Across their range, jaguar are poached for skin, teeth, and claws. These animal parts are sold through illegal markets. In some regions, jaguar cubs are also taken from their mothers to be sold into the illegal pet trade.

Climate Change

As sea levels rise in areas where people are living, as in Panama, large groups of people seek homes deeper into wildlife habitats, which causes increased conflicts.

Dr. Kimberly Craighead of Kaminando prepares a camera trap in the Panamanian jungle.

Oakland Zoo is Taking Action for the Jaguar

Project Support

Oakland Zoo supports the research and environmental education programs of Kaminando in Panama, as they uncover the best ways to conserve habitats and create community stewards. Oakland Zoo has also sponsored a state-of-the-art enclosure for Kaminando’s beautiful jaguar that are non-releasable and serve as ambassadors to conservation in the wild. 

Community Engagement 

Oakland Zoo shares conservation issues facing Central American species and empowering solutions to conserve them to the public through a variety of channels: Docents and Volunteers, Teen Wild Guides, Education programs, events, exhibits, campaigns, Keeper Talks, and media stories. The Zoo is committed to combating the Illegal Wildlife Trade with a comprehensive campaign to ensure our community is part of the solution: #Endthetrade: Illegal Wildlife Trade.

Leadership Training and Staff Expertise

Oakland Zoo provides yearly professional development training for field partners, offering them a myriad of staff skills and resources to enhance conservation efforts. Oakland Zoo also helped launch the Guardians of the Jaguar program with Kaminando, bringing engaging environmental education opportunities to the valley in Panama. Inspiring work is done to help students understand why the cloud forest is vital to Panama and the world. Oakland Zoo has sent skilled staff to join Kaminando in Panama, to assist with camera trap research efforts in the field. Oakland Zoo also has sent staff with expertise in education, vet training, conservation, media, and animal care to ARCAS in Guatemala to assist with the rehabilitation of wildlife, including jaguars, that are caught in the illegal wildlife trade.

Sales that Save Wildlife

Oakland Zoo has offered Town Zoo beer, made by Ale Industries here in Oakland, proceeds of which support ARCAS in their efforts to prevent the illegal wildlife trade in Guatemala. Shade-grown coffee is sold at our Zoo cafes, ensuring that the coffee buzz we enjoy does not devastate rainforests with deforested agriculture.

Eco-Travel with Impact

Oakland Zoo’s Eco-Travel to Guatemala focuses on ARCAS, providing authentic hands-on work chopping animal diets, cleaning enclosures of rescued animals, and creating special projects that support their crucial work. Oakland Zoo offers travel participants a unique glimpse into the complexities of conservation issues and solutions with the aim to positively impact our partner projects, our travelers, and wildlife.


Working to create lasting solutions for jaguar conservation by acquiring scientific knowledge, community outreach, and empowering residents to participate in the most urgent conservation challenges threatening our flagship species.

ARCAS (Guatemala)

ARCAS serves as a rescue center to care for and rehabilitate wild animals that are being confiscated on the black market by the Guatemalan government, while also participating in other conservation, education, and sustainability efforts.


AZA SAFE (Association of Zoo's & Aquariums Saving Animals From Extinction) focuses the collective expertise within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages their massive audiences to save species.

Taking Action for Jaguars: You Can Too!

  • VOLUNTEER and have the experience of a lifetime at ARCAS! Go to their website to learn more about the international volunteer program.
  • TRAVEL on an Oakland Zoo EcoTrip to Guatemala to visit ARCAS and learn more about the project first hand.
  • TAKE Oakland Zoo’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Pledge to save animals from the exotic pet trade.
  • PASS on petting zoos that allow contact or photos with jaguars or other wild species.
  • VOLUNTEER in Panama with Kaminando and work as a Field Assistant, Co-Researcher or Traveler. Your participation promotes the sustainability of the jaguar program and generates income to the local community.
  • PURCHASE wisely and enjoy rainforest-friendly chocolate and coffee.
  • WATCH this Cocktails & Conservation episode featuring Kaminando.

More Learning and Resources