'Filthy' Jaguar Cub Abandoned Outside California Sanctuary Is Thriving and Happy a Year Later

Jaguar cub abandoned at sanctuary Full credit line – San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears
Jaguar cub abandoned at sanctuary Full credit line – San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears

San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears

Eddie the jaguar is celebrating an important anniversary.

A year ago, an unidentified individual abandoned the young jaguar — then just a cub — outside Lions, Tigers & Bears, an animal sanctuary near San Diego, California.

Bobbi Brink, the founder and director of Lions Tigers & Bears, discovered Eddie in a small cage on a road leading up to the sanctuary.

"He was just a baby. He was absolutely filthy. We got him cleaned up, called the vet, and called the authorities," Brink tells PEOPLE.

Eddie's arrival marked the first time someone dumped an animal on Lions, Tigers & Bears' property, but luckily, the sanctuary was more than equipped to care for the cub. The nonprofit currently houses around 65 animals — primarily big cats and bears — each with "their own rescue story," including harrowing tales involving the exotic pet trade, circuses, and abusive situations.

Jaguar cub abandoned at sanctuary Full credit line – San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears
Jaguar cub abandoned at sanctuary Full credit line – San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears

San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears

After picking Eddie up off the road, Lions, Tigers & Bears washed up the jaguar and gave him a complete physical.

"We gave him a microchip, vaccinated him, and got him on a proper diet," Brink added on what the sanctuary offered Eddie on his first days there.

After Eddie started on the road to recovery, the sanctuary focused on setting up a permanent home for the big cat at the organization. While sanctuary workers built "lots of love and trust" up with Eddie, they also started working on building a future for the cub at Lions, Tigers & Bears.

RELATED: 'Cub-Petting' Attractions Stress Out Baby Lions and Cause 'Grave Welfare Concerns,' Study Finds

"Right now, he's in a habitat that has grass, rocks, and enrichment, but we are also redoing a bigger habitat for him," Brink says of Eddie's bunking situation.

Once Eddie's permanent habitat is complete, it will include "lots of places to climb, run, romp, and swim."

Jaguar cub abandoned at sanctuary Full credit line – San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears
Jaguar cub abandoned at sanctuary Full credit line – San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears

San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears

Even while he waits for the completion of his habitat, Eddie's life has vastly improved from where it was a year ago. Now, the jaguar spends his day enjoying the outdoors, enrichment activities, and a healthy diet.

RELATED: Lion Cubs from War-Torn Ukraine On Their Way to Minnesota Sanctuary: 'We Wanted to Do Our Part'

Brink says the authorities' investigation into Eddie's origins uncovered that the cub was likely bought from an illegal breeder and brought to events for paid photo opportunities before he was dumped for growing too large.

Jaguar cub abandoned at sanctuary Full credit line – San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears
Jaguar cub abandoned at sanctuary Full credit line – San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears

San Diego’s Lions Tigers & Bears

The founder hopes that Eddie's story inspires animal lovers to avoid the illegal wildlife trade and photo opportunities that offer the payee the chance to handle wild animals. According to Brink, the animals involved in these photo-ops are often obtained illegally, handled poorly, and then dumped when they become too big and hard to control.

For those looking to support Lions, Tigers & Bears, and the sanctuary's animal residents, like Eddie, Brink says there are "100 different ways to get involved," and people can learn more about them at Lionstigersandbears.org.