Beardsley Zoo

Brazilian Ocelot Births Help Conservation and Research

1_revy as kitten - bill swanson Cincinnati Zoo

Since 2010, three Brazilian Ocelot kittens (females “Milagre,” “Ayla,” and “Revy”) have been produced using artificial insemination (AI) techniques developed and performed by scientists from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW).

All three of these genetically valuable Ocelots have gone on to produce offspring of their own as a result of natural breeding. The most recent kitten was Neto who was born to Revy at the Santa Ana Zoo in December. Revy is the last of the three AI offspring to reproduce.

2_Revy and Neto - Santa Ana Zoo - Ethan Fisher

3_Neto - Santa Ana Zoo - Ethan Fisher (1)

4_neto -ethan fisherImage 1: Revy as a kitten by Bill Swanson ; Images 2,3,4,8: Revy and Neto by Ethan Fisher ; Images 5,6,7: Revy and Neto by Lauren Bergh ; Images 9,10,11,12: Milagre and kitten Matteo by Shannon Calvert ; Images 13 & 14: Ayla and kitten courtesy Dallas Zoo

“Without the AI option, Milagre, Ayla and Revy – and all of their subsequent offspring - would have never existed and the long-term genetic viability of our Brazilian Ocelot population would have been further diminished as a consequence,” said Dr. Bill Swanson, CREW’s Director of Animal Research and one of the world’s authorities on breeding endangered small cats. “Only 30 Brazilian Ocelots exist in North American Zoos, and seven, or nearly one quarter of the population, were born as a direct or indirect result of AI. That’s strong evidence that biotechnology can play a major role in species conservation.”

In October of 2014, on a recommendation from the Ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP), which makes breeding pairings based on each individual’s genetic importance to the population as a whole, Revy moved from the Cincinnati Zoo, where she was born, to the Santa Ana Zoo to breed with “Diego,” a male from Oklahoma City Zoo. Because Diego’s parents were imported from Brazil to the United States in 2006 (a process that took six years to plan & execute), Diego’s genetic lineage was considered critically important to establishing a sustainable, genetically viable population.

“Revy and Diego are both extremely valuable to the Ocelot SSP due to the multiple founder lines they represent. The fact that they are compatible and have produced a kitten through natural breeding is a significant step toward conserving this species,” said Swanson. “Our objective is to use AI when necessary to produce offspring that then can breed on their own.”

The SSP’s goal is to increase the Brazilian ocelot population in North American zoos from 30 to 125 individuals. In some cases, however, the SSP’s carefully selected breeding pairs fail to reproduce naturally, sometimes due to behavioral incompatibilities (as with Revy’s parents) or, occasionally, physical impairments (as with Milagre’s and Ayla’s mother).

CREW scientists perform many of the AI procedures with wild cats in the U.S. They focus primarily on five priority small cat species: Ocelots, Pallas’ Cats, Black-footed Cats, Sand Cats, and Fishing Cats.

Dr. Swanson has also aided in AI procedures on tigers, lions, and leopards, in the past few years. “We have become the go-to source for AI in cats, as well as rhinos and polar bears, because of CREW’s expertise and past success. All cat SSPs have pairs that are not reproducing on their own for various reasons, so we try to help out with other cat species as much as possible,” said Swanson.

In cats, AI has been used to produce offspring in 12 species (tiger, snow leopard, cheetah, clouded leopard, leopard cat, ocelot, tigrina, fishing cat, Pallas’ cat, golden cat, leopard, puma), but half of those AI births consist of only a single pregnancy.   Historically, cheetahs have been most successful, with about 13 AI pregnancies produced since 1991 (but none since 2003) followed by the ocelot (with 5 pregnancies).

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Kidding Around at Beardsley Zoo


Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo has recently experienced a Nigerian Dwarf Goat baby boom! Six goat babies were born: three on Friday, October 10th and three on Sunday, October 12th



NigerianDwarfGoat_Beardsley_4Photo Credits: Shannon Calvert

‘Peaches’, who is four and a half years old, gave birth to one male and two female kids. ‘Cupcake’, also four and a half years old, gave birth to one female and two male kids. ‘Rodney’, at two and a half years old, is the proud father of all six. The ‘kids’ are all healthy, happy and welcome additions to the goat yard. This is the third set of kids for both moms.

"These kids are high energy and were bouncing around the farmyard within hours of their birth. Visitors coming this month will enjoy seeing them play and jump around having fun," explained Gregg Dancho, Beardsley Zoo Director.

The yet-to-be-named kids will begin to nibble on hay and grains later this week and spend the next few months nursing.

Visitors can enjoy a visit to the Farmyard, at the zoo, to see the newest arrivals.

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Beardsley Zoo Welcomes Two New Kids

Goat 1

On April 22nd, after a five month gestation, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo's female Nigerian Dwarf Goat Cupcake gave birth to two female kids. The birth came less than two months shy of their father Rodney's first birthday in June. The zoo is reporting that the young, who have yet to be named, are healthy and happy as they explore the zoo's goat yard. "Mom and kids are doing quite well and are a favorite with visitors already," said zoo director Gregg Dancho. "Cupcake is very protective of them and likes to hide them in the exhibit, so visitors may have to look hard to see them," he continued.

Goat 2

Goat 3

Goat 4
Photo credits: Shannon Calvert taken at Beardsley Zoo

The offspring will continue to nurse from their mother for the next few months, though they will begin to nibble on their adult diet of hay and grains in the next week or so. Visitors to the zoo will be excited to hear that the zoo's goat yard is expecting another special delivery; Cupcake's sister Peaches is expecting kids as well.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat's are miniature dairy goats that grow to be around 75 pounds and less than two feet tall. They posses a range of coat colors including black, brown and white, and can have various patterns of these colors. Young males are fully fertile at just seven weeks of age, while females are able to be bred at eight months.

Beardsley Zoo Welcomes a Chacoan Peccary Piglet


This little Chacoan peccary piglet was born on October 20 to parents Acorn and Bernard at Connecticut's Beardsley ZooThe female piglet, who is as of yet unnamed, was two pounds (.907 kg) at birth and has already grown to 10 (4.5 kg) pounds!  She was up and following her mother around within 15 minutes of her birth, which is not uncommon for these animals. 

Chacoan peccaries are between one and a half to two and a half feet at the shoulders and grow to weigh between 66-88 pounds (about 30 kg). They are most active during the early part of the day and then find a shaded area to cool under as the day progresses. Their hair is coarse gray to gray-brown, interspersed with long guard hairs. The have a whitish collar across the shoulders and under the chin. The head is extremely large and the nose tapers to a snout.

Chacoans feed on various species of cacti, fruit, roots herbs, using their tough leathery snouts to roll the cacti on the ground, rubbing the spines off. They also pull the spines off with their teeth and spit them out. The kidneys of the Chacoan are specialized to break down acids from the cacti.

The baby will remain off exhibit until Spring 2012, both because of the harsh winter temperatures and to allow for bonding with the mother. She


W mom
Photo Credit: Beardsley Zoo

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