If this doesn't make you want to be a vet, I don't know what would. These baby ocelot kittens were born at the Woodland Park Zoo on September 23rd, 2008. In the video below, zoo veterinarians examine the new arrivals.
SEATTLE - Woodland Park Zoo veterinarians have given a clean bill of health to the zoo’s 2-week-old ocelot kittens after performing a neonatal examination.
Neonatal examinations are a part of the excellent animal and medical care program for the thousand-plus animals under the zoo’s care. “Both kittens appear healthy and active, reflecting the good maternal care we have been observing from their mom,” said Woodland Park Zoo Associate Veterinarian Dr. Kelly Helmick. “Veterinary and keeper staff will continue to closely monitor the kittens’ progress to ensure they continue to thrive.”
Ocelots are small spotted cats that range throughout Mexico, Central and South America to northern Argentina, with remnant populations in the southwestern United States. An endangered species, the secretive, nocturnal cats are three to four times the size of an average domestic house cat, weighing on average 24-35 pounds and averaging 21⁄2-5 feet in length. They may be found in several different kinds of habitats, from jungle areas and tropical rain forests to dry scrub and chaparral zones.
Newborn ocelots are blind at birth and are helpless for several weeks, relying solely on their mother for care and nutrition. Staff continue to have minimal physical contact and monitor the mother and kittens in the birthing den via a web cam only. “We hope to have the new family on public exhibit in the next six to eight weeks,” explained Woodland Park Zoo Curator Mark Myers.
Footage of the neonatal exam can be found on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jjTXWWq74M&fmt=18. As footage and images are made available, cat enthusiasts can keep tabs on the kittens by checking out the zoo’s blog on its website at www.zoo.org and on YouTube.
The birth of ocelots is a rare occurrence in zoos. In addition to the kittens born at Woodland Park, only eight other ocelots have been born over the past two years in North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). “In the future, our kittens will be valuable in helping to sustain the population of ocelots in North America,” said Myers. There are currently 95 ocelots in North American zoos.
In the wild, the endangered ocelots continue to lose ground with their ever-shrinking habitat and black market pet trade. Today, only 100 or so are thought to remain in the U.S. “The new ocelot kittens will play a very important role as animal conservation ambassadors as they help to educate visitors about the importance of saving these beautiful cats,” added Myers.
The birth is part of the Ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP), cooperative breeding programs that work to ensure genetic diversity and demographic stability in North American zoos and aquariums. Woodland Park Zoo has infused the SSP genetic pool with 17 other successful ocelot births since 1973.
Woodland Park Zoo winter hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. Admission through April 30: Adult (13–64) $11.00; Child (3–12) $8.00; Toddler (0–2) free. Seniors and people with disabilities receive a discount and zoo members receive free zoo admission year-round.
For more information or to become a zoo member, call 206.548.2500 or 206.548.2599 (TTY), or visit the zoo’s website at www.zoo.org.
About Woodland Park Zoo:
Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), award-winning Woodland Park Zoo is famed for pioneering naturalistic exhibits and setting international standards for zoos all over the world. Conservation, education and excellent animal care are at the core of the zoo’s mission. The zoo is helping to save animals and their habitats in Washington state and around the world including tree kangaroos, snow leopards, red-crowned cranes, African wild dogs, western pond turtles and Oregon silverspot butterflies. By inspiring people to care and act, Woodland Park Zoo is making a difference in our planet’s future.