On a day that started out just like any other, a group of hikers were exploring part of a jungle in Ecuador. Enjoying each other’s company and looking around at the sights and wildlife, they never expected that they’d end up coming home with one more member in their party than they started with.
But that’s exactly what happened.
Making their way through the jungle, the hikers noticed some shuffling movements in the surrounding area that they were exploring. Upon further investigation, they were surprised to find a female baby jaguar.
But there seemed to be something wrong with it.
The jaguar seemed to only be able to move its head and the rest of its body was limp and immobile. Even worse, there were cuts all over it, cuts that looked like gunshot wounds.
Jaguars have been ruled an endangered species and with their populations steadily decreasing, the hikers decided that they were going to take it back with them so that it could see a vet and get the cub check out. Carrying the baby jaguar with them, they brought it to Darwin Animal Doctors.
Without their intervention the baby jaguar very likely would have died of starvation.
The vets quickly went to work, doing x-rays to have a better look at the cuts on its body, figuring it in some way may be connected to why it was paralyzed. In the end, they made the unfortunate discovery that the jaguar had 18 shotgun pellets inside of it, some of which were lodged in its spinal cord.
Even worse, the vets went on to assume that the baby’s mother had likely been killed due to farmers in the area shooting jaguars to protect their cattle.
“This is an area where people have cattle, and jaguars are known for going into farms and killing cattle, so what the locals do is just kill the Jaguars to preserve the cattle,” Cristina Cely of the Darwin Animal Doctors told The Dodo. “It’s very sad.”
The vets decided to name the baby jaguar D’Yaria.
Never giving up on D’Yaria, the vets started the process of trying to help her recover. She’d need to undergo a lengthy and complex surgery to remove the shotgun pellets, which had the vets worried about her survival. Thankfully however, she ended up making it through ok.
Following the surgery, it was an incredible moment when the vets observed D’Yaria stand up and begin walking around.
The vets concluded that D’Yaria would end up making a full recovery.
In the time since she was rescued from the jungle, D’Yaria has made leaps and bounds in her healing from where she’d been when the hikers first brought her in.
Healing and starting to grow up into an adult jaguar, the vets are hoping to see her released back into the wild. For now, however, she’s remaining in an enclosed nature park while she continues to grow and develop.
As for the hikers who rescued D’Yaria in the first place, because of their efforts an animal’s life was saved. Though D’Yaria doesn’t have the means to communicate her thanks, they can rest easy knowing their rescue wasn’t in vain.