Meet Little Blue Eyes

A blue-eyed Ocelot kitten born a the Dallas Zoo won’t stay that way for long.  As the kitten matures, its eyes will naturally turn brown.  But that won’t make it any less adorable. 

DSC_1001a-Ocelot-kitten-logoBorn in the middle of the night on March 20, the kitten is learning its first lessons in hunting – but instead of capturing rodents, this little kitten uses its mother’s tail as its prey.  Its mother, Milagre, takes it all in stride. 

This is the second kitten for six-year-old Milagre.  Keepers continue to give Milagre and her baby privacy, and will conduct a well-baby checkup within the next few days. The baby’s weight and gender will be determined at that time, and he or she will be given a name.

“Milagre is once again embracing motherhood tremendously,” said Lisa Van Slett, carnivore assistant supervisor. “She manages a lot with her energetic newborn and makes it took effortless.”

Ocelots are found throughout much of South America, Central America, and Mexico, with Texas at the far northern edge of their range.  Fewer than 50 wild Ocelots are thought to survive in Texas, and they face severe threats from human encroachment in their native habitat. 

“Their territory used to cover all of Texas, and now it’s rare to find one in the wild,” said Van Slett.

Milagre will remain the sole caretaker of her kitten, since Ocelots are solitary by nature. The two are expected to venture out to the Ocelot habitat soon. That’s also when the kitten will meet its neighbors – dad Joaquin and Rufus, a bobcat – for the first time.

Joaquin and Milagre were paired by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP) in 2011. As a member of the SSP, the Dallas Zoo works with other zoological parks to ensure that the Ocelot gene pool remains healthy and genetically sound.


Abilene Zoo Loves Lucy

Lucy face1
The Abilene Zoo, in Texas, has a new baby Ocelot! Born Sept. 9th, to proud Ocelot parents ‘Hotrod’ and ‘Ellie’, little ‘Lucy’ is now old enough to be out on exhibit with her mother.

Lucy face2

Denise feeds Lucy

Ellie and baby LucyPhoto Credits: Abilene Zoo

The father, Hotrod, is 15 years old, and mother, Ellie, is fourteen. Lucy is their third litter together. Ocelot litters tend to range from one to three offspring.

The baby’s care has been shared by the zoo keepers and the Ocelot mother, a new experience for Ellie and the zoo. In the past, Ellie’s babies have been exclusively hand-raised, to help ensure their survival. Lucy is thriving from the extra care and attention.

“We’re lucky that the mother is allowing us to assist in rearing this baby,” said Abilene Zoo Mammal Keeper, Denise Ibarra. “It’s been successful with large cats, but this is rare in the zoo world for smaller cats to share hand-raising with parental care.”

The Abilene Zoo’s Ocelot breeding program is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP), which strives to educate the public about these threatened animals while helping to repopulate the species.

Ocelots, also called dwarf leopards, are small wild cats that live in Central America, South America, Mexico, and far South Texas. They were once killed for their beautiful spotted fur, but the species has rebounded to between 800,000 and 1.5 million worldwide. They are, however, endangered in Texas. Only about an estimated 80 to 120 wild ocelots are found in two isolated populations in southeast Texas.

More great photos below the fold!

Continue reading "Abilene Zoo Loves Lucy" »

UPPDATE! Santos the Ocelot Makes Friends with Blakely the Dog

Ocelot hero image

Do you remember Santos, Cincinnati Zoo's little Ocelot kitten? Since we last saw him in November, he has grown up from a tiny ball of fuzz into a healthy and playful young hunter. Here he is having a great time with his canine playmate, Blakely. 

1 ocelot

2 ocelot

4 ocelot

3 ocelot

5 ocelotPhoto credit: Cassandre Crawford / Cincinnati Zoo

See more playtime photos after the fold.

Continue reading "UPPDATE! Santos the Ocelot Makes Friends with Blakely the Dog" »

Don't Wake Little Santos, The Ocelot Kitten!


The nursery in Cincinnati Zoo's Children's Zoo has a brand new addition! Santos, the baby Ocelot, was born November 2 at the Abilene Zoo in Texas. He'll become a part of the Cincinnati Zoo's Cheetah Encounter Show in the summer of 2014.

Ocelots are native to much of South America and Mexico. They are expert hunters, and are fiercely territorial. They are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.





The Adventures Begin for Zoo Berlin's Ocelot Kitten

1 ocelot

Kittens always seem to be crowd-pleasers, but sometimes it takes a little while for them to venture outside. Zoo Berlin welcomed an Ocelot kitten on July 16, and the little one has been nursing, sleeping and growing strong out of the public's sight, until recently. Keepers have noticed some stirrings now that the kitten is about nine weeks old. Even though these cats are mostly nocturnal, visitors have an increasing chance of catching a glimpse of the beautifully-patterned mother and baby.  As the zoo's press release noted, the elusive nature of these creatures might not be the best draw for the zoo— but it certainly is typical cat! The nine-year-old mother does a good job keeping her baby out of sight. 

2 ocelot

3 ocelot

4 ocelot

5 ocelotPhoto credits: Zoo Berlin

Ocelots live in a variety of ecosystems in Central and South America, from tropical forests of all types to grasslands, coastal mangroves and marshes, and thorny scrublands. Their range once included the Gulf Coast of the United States, but now only a very small number remain, mostly in south Texas and Arizona. These cats were heavily hunted for their spotted fur, but are now protected throughout most of their range. 

Because Ocelots are solitary and territorial cats, the father is living in a separate enclosure to ensure that mother and baby have the space and privacy that they need. Ocelots have a  fairly low reproductive rate, which poses a challenge to conservation. A litter size of one kitten is typical, and offspring develop slowly.  A kitten's eyes remain closed for up to 18 days, and juveniles often stay with their mother for up to two years before leaving to establish their own territory.

Wide-eyed Ocelot Kitten Debuts at Dallas Zoo


A rare Ocelot kitten born on June 26 made her public debut this week at the Dallas Zoo!

With her mother Milagre by her side, Lindy gingerly explored her outdoor habitat for the first time last week.  She scampered over rocks, chased bugs, and stared wide-eyed at the visitors who were watching her. 


Ocelot Kitten
Photo Credit:  Dallas Zoo


Lindy and Milagre have spent the last two months in seclusion in their den.  Milagre is still very protective of her baby and keeps Lindy close most of the time.  But as Lindy grows, expect her to become bolder and Milagre to become more relaxed.

Lindy is the third Ocelot kitten ever born at the Dallas Zoo and the first since 2001.  Only a few Ocelot kittens are born in U.S. zoos each year. Milagre, age 4, came to Dallas from Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, while the kitten’s father, Joaquin, age 5, came from the Oklahoma City Zoological Park. Both were brought to the Dallas Zoo in April 2011 on the recommendation of the Ocelot Species Survival Plan, with hopes that they would reproduce. Ocelot kittens typically weigh less than half a pound when born. At four weeks old, Lindy weighed two pounds.

Wild Ocelots occur naturally in Texas, but experts believe that only about 50 of these predators remain in the wilds of the state.  Ocelots are widespread in Central and South America, where they prefer areas of dense vegetation. 

"Miracle" Ocelot Kitten Born at Cameron Park Zoo


An Ocelot kitten born at the Cameron Park Zoo is being called a “miracle baby” because it was born to a mother who was beyond the known breeding age for Ocelots. 

The kitten, a male named Aztec, is the first infant born to Cameron Park Zoo Ocelots Maya and Gustavo. Maya is 14 years old, an age which is considered somewhat past the prime age for successfully producing offspring. Ocelots reach sexual maturity at two to two-and-a-half years of age and their life expectancy is seven to ten years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 



Photo Credit:  Cameron Park Zoo

In November 2012, a team of veterinary specialists from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Wildlife (CREW) performed a reproductive assessment on Maya. Even though she was past her breeding prime, Maya was still cycling and the assessment showed that there could be a slight chance of a successful pregnancy.  The team, along with Cameron Park Zoo veterinarian Terry Hurst, collected semen from Gustavo and performed an artificial insemination procedure on Maya. Unfortunately the procedure was not successful, and the assumption was that because of her age and the condition of her ovaries, Maya would not be able to become pregnant. 

On May 31, 2013 Maya was not feeling well and was left in her night house.  Later that morning, zoo staff members were surprised and excited to find a baby Ocelot had just been born!  Maya was given a nest box and hay for bedding her infant and then left alone with her baby to allow time to bond.  Apparently, Gustavo and Maya decided to have their baby “the old fashioned way” and Maya has proven to be an attentive mother.  Aztec has not made his public debut in the exhibit, but zoo officlas hope to announce that very soon. 

Ocelots are native to much of South America and Mexico.  They are expert hunters, and are fiercely territorial.  They are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Announcing "ZooBorns CATS!": The Newest Edition in the ZooBorns Library!


From the guys who brought you the smash hit ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Animals from the World's Zoos and Aquariums, which DiscoverMagazine.com called “hands down the cutest books ever to grace my shelf” comes ZooBorns CATS! The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World's Zoos featuring adorable pictures of newborn felines from accredited zoos and conservation programs around the world. ZooBorns: Cats! is the largest and most complete collection of kittens of different feline species ever published! Every sale of ZooBorns Cats! supports the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund. With the official release on November 1st, you can pre-order ZooBorns CATS! now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Look out for exclusive giveaways and excerpts on our Facebook page in the coming weeks! 

North Carolina Zoo Welcomes Healthy Ocelot Twins


On April 12th, The North Carolina Zoo welcomed two Ocelot cubs. The cubs underwent their first examination last Friday. The female now weighs 880 grams; the male now weighs 910 grams. This was the third litter for the mother, who has given birth to six cubs in total, all from the same father. A female Ocelot will mature to about 20 lbs. and an adult male can reach as much as 35 lbs. Ocelots are typically born with blue eyes, which eventually turn brown. Their fur patterns are unique like human fingerprints. The Zoo will likely keep the cubs for about a year and then transfer them to another facility determined by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' breeding management program.




Photo credits: North Carolina Zoo

Ocelot Kitten Hates the Dentist

Ocelot kitten exam at the Woodland Park Zoo 1

A healthy, active ocelot kitten received a clean bill of health during an examination administered by the Woodland Park Zoo's animal health staff. The kitten was born at the Zoo on January 15 and currently weighs nearly 3½ pounds. The 8-week-old kitten, named Evita, remains off public view in a birthing den with her mom,10-year-old Bella. Just as in the wild, Woodland Park's mother ocelots cares for her kitten young alone.  The kitten will continue to undergo a series of exams for the next couple of months to ensure she’s achieving acceptable weight gains and other important benchmarks. Don't miss the outstanding video below.

Via a closed-circuit cam, staff is monitoring Evita’s growth, progress and the maternal care Bella is providing. “Evita is exceeding all of our expectations and spending more and more time out of the den playing and climbing. She’s very playful and has a feisty temperament,” noted Myers. “Our keepers introduce a variety of enrichment toys to help stimulate natural behavior, but her favorite enrichment toy seems to be her mom, and that’s a good thing too.”

Photo and video credits: Ryan Hawk / Woodland Park Zoo. Read more below the fold.

Continue reading "Ocelot Kitten Hates the Dentist" »