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San Antonio Jaguar – 1860s

Source: San Antonio Express News – April 18, 1922, p. 14

In 1922, Gustave Duerler gave an interview to the San Antonio Evening News and recalled his 73 years of living in the city. Duerler was a prominent citizen and had served as Fire Chief, City Councilman and manager of San Pedro Park. His father was park manager before him, so Gustave spent his childhood there. In the interview he tells a story about a large jaguar that his father shot in the park when he was a boy. This would have been in the late 1860s, after his father took over its management.

It required two shots at close range to end the animal, which proved to be one of the largest jaguars ever seen anywhere in Southwest Texas.

It would be easy to write of Duerler’s story as a childhood fantasy, but it does include some specific details like how many shots it took and the price the skin sold for. Also, as you can see in this really cool map of San Antonio from 1886, San Pedro Springs was on the edge of town, even though it is in the heart of downtown today. I’ve included a crop of the park below, but check out the full map if you have time.

Bird’s Eye View of San Antonio Bexar Co. Texas 1886 Looking East, 1886. Toned lithograph, 28 x 37 in. Lithographer unknown. Witte Museum, San Antonio.

You can also view the full clip below, but I’ve transcribed it here for easier reading:

It’s really difficult to think of all of these things consecutively. I recall two incidents of my boyhood I should have thought of before. While we lived at San Pedro Springs Park I recall that my father shot from the window of our home one of the largest bucks I have ever seen. Another morning as my brother and I started to school we walked under one of the park trees and saw an immense wild animal spread out on a big limb, staring at us and showing his fangs. We didn’t know what it was, but we did know it wasn’t safe to let a thing like that run wild in our neighborhood. We yelled for father to come with his gun and he ran to us. It required two shots at close range to end the animal, which proved to be one of the largest jaguars ever seen anywhere in Southwest Texas. Father skinned him and an admirer of hides paid him $25 for the fur. That was a big sum in those days.

San Pedro Jaguar part 1
San Pedro Jaguar part 2
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