The Jaguar School

Students at Panthera's Jaguar School in Colombia wearing cat masks
© Panthera Columbia

Card showing students appreciation of jaguars written in English
© Panthera Colombia

The Jaguar School, La Escuela Jaguar, is a special place for children. Here in Colombia, we’re motivating them to change negative feelings they may have associated with jaguars. Through art, music, games and even statistics lessons, these little ones learn why jaguars are crucial to Colombia’s ecosystems — and the wider world around them. In an area lacking funding for basic services like water and energy in addition to school supplies and books, the Jaguar School is creating new opportunities for jaguars and people alike.

“The work we do with girls at the jaguar school can encourage girls to decide for a future professional orientation linked to science and technology.”

Jerónimo Rodríguez
Director, Panthera Colombia

Students at Panthera's Jaguar School in Colombia wearing cat masks
© Panthera Colombia

Adult students also frequent the Jaguar School, including Panthera employees and people from neighboring ranches and tourist lodges. Students of all ages are excited about their new easy access to education and subsequent access to modern communications like email and WhatsApp. For example, one jaguar tour guide — who is also a part-time cowboy, horse trainer and outboard motor mechanic — is now able to order replacement parts directly over the phone, with the catalog in hand, thanks to our literacy program, improving the speed and quality of his work tremendously. In this remote region, we also help to organize and host periodical visits by medical and odontological professional teams (governmental and private) that attend to the local communities.

The Jaguar School also teaches children about the meaning and significance of jaguars in indigenous cultures. While jaguars are one of the most persecuted big cat species, educational outlets like the Jaguar School can help improve perceptions and foster coexistence with humans. Panthera Colombia Diorector, Jerónimo Rodríguez, says:

“The work we do at the jaguar school can encourage girls to choose a future profession linked to science and technology, in particular, to the conservation and monitoring of wildlife and the country’s ecosystems. The Jaguar School symbolizes the inclusion of girls in a social structure that goes beyond traditional housework role, building a new generation of empowered girls who are willing to take on new challenges and work towards their future personal and professional development.”

Since 2009, more than 1,300 children and youth have been taught about the importance of wild cats and their conservation.

The Curriculum at the Jaguar School

Students learn that as apex carnivores, jaguars protect biodiversity and even the water upon which we rely — in flooded savannas, riverside forests, rivers and lagoons. Importantly, these future conservationists are catalyzing change for jaguars by bringing positive perceptions home to their families.

The curriculum also includes:

  • Teaching the monitoring techniques to differentiate between the tracks of various species;
  • The ecological and cultural roles of wild cats in their ecosystems;
  • Using art and music as tools to change attitudes and perceptions towards wild cats;
  • Implementing playful and educational activities about what to do if one encounters a jaguar;
  • Teaching children to differentiate between cat species, such as ocelots, jaguars and jaguarundis;
  • Sharing interactive family activities about protecting cats;
  • Integrating the jaguar into different subjects such as math, Spanish, science, English and more.
Students adding jaguar masks that they've created to a poster
© Panthera Columbia
Teacher and student collaborating
© Lucia Pérez/Panthera
Students wearing cat masks and holding jaguar drawings they've made
© Panthera Columbia