Thursday 10 December 2015

Dangerous Liaison: Aramis and Simara the jaguars


Yesterday the ninth of December was a historic day. I went to the Parc Zoologique de Paris at Vincennes just as it opened because I'd heard that at last Aramis the black jaguar and Simara the spotted female had been brought together. But no luck, as I suspected this event is closely supervised and is only allowed for short periods, and when a senior keeper is available. Alas, Simara was queen of the front enclosure and Aramis in the back paddock. I had not seen Aramis close up for a year and was disappointed. The keepers have been waiting until the young gold jaguar was old enough, until she is big enough for Aramis who is a huge young male. It's dangerous to bring them together. I strolled around the zoo and spent time with all my animal friends then at a quarter to four I went to check on A and S just before I went home. No change.

Then a serious looking keeper materialised and the dividing mesh door slowly slid open.

Aramis bounded into the larger enclosure and they rolled together in the twilight. Then, for a moment, it looked as if they were more interested in food, as they are always fed on re-entry into their night-quarters and it was that time. Then Simara butted Aramis in the dark corner. Deep growls issued and I gasped.

Who growled? I couldn't tell, but was worried as one of them kept snarling. The keeper strained to see what was happening. But out they leapt, and Simara led the way, round the banana bushes, poolside path, right up to the front rock where just before she had rolled like a queen. Up Aramis climbed to join her and they tussled. I knew they were unlikely to mate; Simara doesn't yet seem to be in heat, so I guess this is a protacted courtship for solitaries who must meet only to reproduce.

As you can see from my iPhone pics, Simara took the lead and jumped on Aramis's back, biting his neck, and wrestling with him. Poolside saplings got flattened as they play-fought rough. Their canines flashed. Would he get injured? He fought back and then I saw how much bigger he is than her. He was being gentle with her, even though she often drove him to the water trough to drink, exhausted by her constant attacks.

Then the hatches opened to their night-quarters and the dangerous date was over. I went back to my rented flat happy. I kept thinking about the sheer joy they expressed. It was like world enemies making a pact and enjoying the entente, all the boredom of solitude and captivity gone.