"Maya" the jaguar makes her grand debut at Hattiesburg Zoo

"Maya" the jaguar makes her grand debut at Hattiesburg Zoo
Visitors to the Hattiesburg Zoo wait for Maya to make an appearance in her enclosure Saturday. Photo credit WDAM.
Visitors to the Hattiesburg Zoo wait for Maya to make an appearance in her enclosure Saturday. Photo credit WDAM.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Pine Belt residents came out on a cold morning Saturday to give a warm welcome to the Hattiesburg Zoo's newest animal attraction.

They lined up to get a first look at "Maya."

She is a 13-year-old jaguar and she comes to the Hub City from the Memphis Zoo.

The first 100 children who showed up to see her Saturday also got a stuffed toy jaguar and a keepsake poster with Maya's paw print autograph.

"One of the things that's different from her Memphis exhibit is that they actually had a moat between the guests, the people (and Maya)," so here, she can be right up against the glass, and so, that's something new," said Katie Barry, senior keeper and registrar for the Hattiesburg Zoo.

"Well, we think it'll be a great new addition to the zoo, looking forward to the memories it can leave," said Robert Dillard, of Hattiesburg, who brought his family to see Maya.

"She's pretty magnificent looking, so I'm excited we got to see her the first day she came out," said Holly Phillips, another visitor from Petal.

For years, the zoo had a jaguar named Sampson, but he died last January at the age of 19.