In scientific classification (taxonomy) the Jaguar (Panthera onca) belongs to the big cat genus Panthera within the subfamily Pantherinae of the Felidae cat family.

The levels of classification for a Jaguar are:

  • Kingdom: Animalia   (animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata   (vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia   (mammals)
    • Order: Carnivora   (carnivores)
    • Suborder: Feliformia   (cat-like)
      • Family: Felidae   (cats)
      • Subfamily: Pantherinae   (big cats)
        • Genus: Panthera   (big cats)
        • Species: Panthera onca (Jaguar)
        • Subspecies: none

Note: The scientific name for the Jaguar species, Panthera onca, is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name and zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Classification Chart

This Jaguar classification chart shows where the Jaguar fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Panthera genus.

Jaguar (Panthera onca) Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.
Jaguar Distribution Map
Jaguar Distribution Map from Eizirik et al. 2001 who found evidence for four phylogeographic groups - Phylogeography, population history and conservation genetics of jaguars (Panthera onca, Mammalia, Felidae).

Subspecies (Lower Classifications)

The Jaguar is a monotypic species (no subspecies) as proposed by the Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017. Genetic studies found insufficient evidence to support any subspecies of Jaguars, however there are four regional groups that show variations from north to south of the Jaguar's range:

  • Mexico and Guatemala
  • Southern Central America
  • North of the Amazon
  • South of the Amazon

Historically up to nine Jaguar subspecies (or lower classifications) were recognized:

  • Panthera onca onca (South American jaguar)
  • Panthera onca arizonensis (Arizona jaguar - Arizona, New Mexico)
  • Panthera onca centralis (Central American jaguar - El Salvador south to Columbia)
  • Panthera onca goldmani (Goldman's jaguar - Yucantan Peninsula south to Belize)
  • Panthera onca hernandesii (West Mexican jaguar)
  • Panthera onca palustris (Pantanal jaguar)
  • Panthera onca paraguensis (Paraguay jaguar - Matto Grosso in Brazil to northern Argentina and Paraguay)
  • Panthera onca peruviana (Peruvian jaguar - coastal Peru)
  • Panthera onca veraecrucis (Vera Cruz jaguar - eastern and southeastern Mexico to Texas)


Here is a list of papers published on Jaguars. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

View more articles on Panthera onca in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database (scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list).

Consider joining the Friends of the Cat Specialist Group to access the full articles and receive their journal Cat News covering the latest wild cat research.


The global conservation status for Jaguars is Near Threatened (NT) and populations are declining.

Historically Jaguars occurred in the southern states of America and in Mexico, but nowadays due to habitat loss and persecution by humans, they occur mostly in Central and South America, where populations continue to decline.

The following organizations are all fighting to conserve our iconic Jaguars in the face of rapid deforestation and predator-farmer conflict:

Jaguar 2030 Roadmap

Panthera - Jaguar Programs and Jaguar Conservation Facts pdf

World Wildlife Fund WWF - Jaguar

Wildlife Conservation Society WCS - US Jaguar Recovery Plan

Jaguar Conservation Fund - Brazil

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps! And be sure to take part in International Jaguar Day every November:

International Jaguar Day - November 29

Facts and Information

The Jaguar is the largest wild cat in the Americas and is the only member of the Panthera big cat family in the Western Hemisphere. It is a large powerful cat with the strongest bite force of all the wild cats. Melanistic (black) Jaguars are common, and they are often called black panthers.

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Jaguars:

Key Facts about Jaguars

~ Largest wild cat in the Americas ~

~ Most powerful bite force ~

~ Melanistic form common ~

('black panther')

If you find this website useful, please consider a small contribution of $5 so I can continue to keep it updated. Thank you, Mandy 🙂
Wild Cats of North America Print
Wild Cats of North America by Roger Hall
(Taxonomy prior to 2017 revision)
View Wild Cats of North America Print