For only the third time in history, an ocelot kitten has been born via artificial insemination technology. Born at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, CT, this little boy was dubbed the "miracle kitten" because of the long odds of success for this procedure, which has not been performed successfully for over a decade.
As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's Species Survival Plan, this little ocelot will join the small population of Brazilian ocelots at zoos in the United States that may one day help to rebuild the wild population.
We here at ZooBorns would like to point out that if the Woodland Park Zoo's baby ocelot kittens didn't convince you that these are the cutest baby kitties in the world, Miracle Kitten pretty much seals the deal for the feline kitten title.
Incidentally, I (Andrew) grew up just a couple of miles from the Beardsley Zoo and it remains one of my all time favorites. If you don't happen to live in Connecticut, plan a stop over next time you're cruising between NYC and New Haven, or Boston, or Maine, or Canada. Definitely worth the trip.
Endangered "Miracle Kitten" Born Through Artificial Insemination at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
Only the 3rd time ever this procedure has been done successfully;
First ocelot born at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
rare endangered ocelot kitten crying closeup - 1st exam at Connecticut's Beardsley ZooBRIDGEPORT, Conn. - December 1, 2008 - The veterinarian at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo said it's official... the rare endangered ocelot kitten born through artificial insemination (AI) is a BOY! The vet and a handful of other Zoo animal care specialists conducted the first physical examination of the kitten today, four weeks after its Halloween birth. The baby ocelot has been dubbed a "Miracle Kitten" because of the rare technology that was used to help nature along. This is just the third time in history that AI has successfully produced an endangered ocelot kitten in captivity, and it is the first time ever that the AI procedure has been used specifically to manage this endangered species. This also is the first ocelot kitten to be born at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo.
"This really is a miracle," stated Gregg Dancho, director, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. "It's always a big deal when our animals give birth, but the fact that cutting edge technology was used to produce a rare and genetically valuable kitten makes it even more exciting. We hope everyone will come to visit and welcome him into the world." Both the kitten and its mother have been in seclusion bonding for the last several weeks and are expected to remain in seclusion for another month. The mother and kitten are expected to be introduced to the public sometime in January 2009, if all goes well.
ocelot kitten reaching - 1st exam at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
Like humans, the endangered Brazilian ocelot parents were unable to breed naturally and underwent the artificial insemination (AI) procedures at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo in August 2008. AI procedures are part of a key initiative supporting the Zoo's goal of animal conservation. Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo worked with one of the world's leading experts on cat reproduction for these procedures, William F. Swanson, DVM, Ph.D., director of animal research at the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
According to Swanson, "The first ocelot AIs were conducted in the 1990s for pure research purposes. This is the first successful AI ocelot birth globally in the last decade and it is significant because it was done specifically to manage this rare species."
There are only between 25 and 30 Brazilian ocelots in captivity in North America and the species has been on the endangered species list for approximately 25 years. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) established its first Species Survival Plans (SSP) for small-field cats, including the ocelot, in 2001. Small sized cats, including the ocelot, have been severely neglected in both scientific and conservation circles, with little information on their natural history or conservation status in the wild. Population projections indicate that several small cat species, including the ocelot, will see their genetic diversity reduced to dangerously low levels in the next 50 years.
Reproductive sciences are playing a key role in helping to address the conservation and management challenges associated with maintaining these small cat SSP species. Reproductive sciences include multiple research disciplines including electroejaculation (for semen collection), artificial insemination (AI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryo transfer (ET), sperm and embryo cryopreservation, among others.