So, We Now Own a Jaguar Pelt. Mixed Feelings Ensue.

Our cabin has an interesting history: The first owner was a New York City ballerina, we’re told, who regularly visited the property until she died at 105 (!). When she went to ballerina heaven, the house was sold by her children, and the new owners (who we bought the cabin from) did some major renovations to the cabin’s interior. During the renovation process, it seems they put many of the ballerina’s possessions that were left behind into storage in our attached shed.   Several weekends ago, we made it our top priority to clean it out, for better or for worse.

Ick. There were at least two old squirrel nests (accompanied by large chew marks on the logs where they sharpened their little rodent teeth), 18 or so half-full paint cans, countless camp-size propane tanks (flammable! yay!) and a plethora of other more interesting junk that I’ll discuss in future posts.

For now, I wanted to share with you our most bizarre find in the shed (unless we find a secret trap door leading to tunnels stuffed with jewels or something). It was folded and placed in a plastic garbage bag. We later noticed a hazy outline on our dining room wall that matched the creature, meaning it had been hanging on the wall for probably decades, a prized possession of the ballerina’s.

Here he is:

Uh yeah, we’re not 100% sure, but we think this buddy boy was a jaguar back in his more alive days. Which happens to be the animal I desperately wanted to see back in January  when we visited one of their last refuges on earth — the Calakmul Biosphere in estado de Campeche, Mexico, near the Belize and Guatemala borders. We saw lots of amazing animals, but no Panthera onca.

Jaguars play a huge role in Mexican folklore, probably because they were the most fearsome non-human threat in the time of the great Olmec, Toltec, Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Tree dwelling, a jaguar’s spotted coat blends in, looking like dappled light and tree bark. I’m sure many a young Maya child who wandered too far from the pyramids ended up as a hearty comida corrida for jaguars. A fan of the movie Apocalypto and of Mexican history in general, I probably enjoy envisioning this scenario more than your average thirty-something white female.

As part of our trip to the Calakmul area, we also visited Parque La Venta in Villahermosa, Tabasco — which along with giant Olmec heads and other ancient sculptures, is full of real animals, including two elderly looking jaguars who seem to have cataracts and do nothing but forlornly pace their enclosures all day and occasionally growl at each other from across their wire fences. It was a desperately sad scene.

So you can see why I have such mixed feelings about inheriting this pelt.

From what we can tell, it’s illegal to sell a pelt, for good reasons. So we thought about donating it to a museum, but have no idea how to even find out if it’s a desirable acquisition. Ultimately, we may keep it, and re-hang it on the wall, though I would feel kind of crummy about doing that. An animal this gorgeous and majestic seems a bit ludicrous tacked to a wall.

THEREFORE: If anyone has ideas about a useful purpose for our fuzzy friend, we’d love to hear some ideas!

7 thoughts on “So, We Now Own a Jaguar Pelt. Mixed Feelings Ensue.

    • Joy Victory says:

      Most of my friends replied via Facebook (grrrrrr!), and the consensus matched your idea: keep it and hang it. So, when you and Jes and baby visit us at our cabin, you’ll get to see Mr. Jaguar in person!

  1. Amanda Hoving says:

    Oh my! I understand the mixed feelings…not sure if I could hang it on the wall, OR have it in the house. Are you willing to have it made it anything — like a cute handbag? 😉

    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your discoveries~

  2. Blue says:

    If you put it on the wall, you will not feel particularly comfortable stroking it. Put it on the floor, so you can snuggle your feet on it (don’t walk on it with shoes) or lie beside it watching TV so that you can stroke it occasionally. What’s the use of having such a magnificent artifact if you can’t enjoy it fully? It’s of course a shame that big cats are hunted down by poachers, but if you have a pelt taken in bygone times, don’t feel guilty.

  3. Ocelotl says:

    My name is Ocelotl. Im a Shaman. Ocelotl means Jaguar in Nahuatl. The Mexican language the Aztec language. I was born on the day of the Jaguar. You have a beautiful treasure. The Aztecs had two elite warriors Eagle Warriors and Jaguar Warriors. If you ever decide to part from it keep me in mind.

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