The Jaguar School

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

The Jaguar School, or La Escuela Jaguar, is a remarkable learning institution in Colombia dedicated to inspiring children to appreciate jaguars. By engaging them through various interactive activities such as art, music, games, and even statistics lessons, our young students learn why jaguars are so crucial to Colombia’s ecosystems and the world at large. The school is situated where essential services like water and energy, school supplies, and books are hard to come by. The Jaguar School is creating new opportunities for vulnerable jaguars and the surrounding community through its efforts.

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Card showing students appreciation of jaguars written in English
© Panthera Colombia
“The jaguar school teaches boys and girls about the importance of jaguars and biodiversity. But, more importantly, it intends to inspire them to become the next generation of scientists and researchers that can show us how to preserve our natural resources and make this world a better place.”

Roberto Salom-Perez
Regional Director, Latin America

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

Adult students also frequent the Jaguar School, including Panthera employees, 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 among 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, particularly 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 roles, building a new generation of empowered girls 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 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 we rely on — 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 toward 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