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.
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!