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.
Twin sisters were born to the same adult pair in 2008. “This first litter provided valuable maternal experience for Bella, and she continues to show excellent maternal care for this kitten,” explained Myers.
An endangered species, ocelots are small spotted cats that range throughout Mexico, Central and South America to northern Argentina, with remnant populations in the southwestern United States. The secretive, nocturnal cats are three to four times the size of an average domestic house cat, weighing on average 24 to 35 pounds and averaging 2½ to 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. In the wild, 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 ocelot’s 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. In addition to the Ocelot SSP, Woodland Park Zoo participates in more than 30 SSPs including the western lowland gorilla, Humboldt penguin, Komodo dragon and red panda. SSPs also involve a variety of other collaborative conservation activities such as research, public education, reintroduction and field projects.