Santa Ana 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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Endangered Monkey Born at Santa Ana Zoo

Monkey 1

The Santa Ana Zoo in Prentice Park is pleased to announce the birth of a rare Crested Capuchin Monkey (Cebus robustus) on May 7. The new infant is the Zoo's third birth of this species, which is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature This birth is an important contribution to the conservation program established in North America. 

Crested capuchin monkeys are a medium sized primate native to rapidly disappearing forests along the Atlantic coast of Brazil. In the wild, capuchins feed on a wide variety of fruits, insects, seeds, leaves, and even small mammals. Zookeeper Dina Orbison says “it is immensely gratifying to participate in this international effort and to educate our visitors about such unique and inquisitive animals”.


Photo Credits: Ethan Fisher/Santa Ana Zoo

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Santa Ana Zoo's Golden-headed Tamarin Baby a Boost for the Species


The Santa Ana Zoo in California announced the April 26 birth of a Golden-headed Lion Tamarin. Closely related to the golden lion tamarin, golden-headed lion tamarins have a black body with a golden-orange face and that same coloring on their hands. Weighing less than 1 pound as adults, the babies tip the scale at about 1/8th of a pound!

These rare monkeys are found only on the Atlantic coast of Brazil and are on special loan from the Brazilian government. Zoos have worked together for several decades on the conservation of this species. Captive breeding, habitat restoration, conservation education and reintroductions into the wild are all part of the international effort to protect and presesrve them. This baby is a great boost to the conservation program. The Santa Ana Zoo’s four golden-headed lion tamarins, combined with eleven closely related golden lion tamarins, make up one of the largest groups of lion tamarins in North America.

Photo Credit: Ethan Fisher/Santa Ana Zo

Seeing Double? Second Little Ginger-haired Langur Baby Born at Santa Ana Zoo

DBL - Ethan Fisher (2)

The Santa Ana Zoo in California was delighted by the birth of their second Silvery Langur (Trachypithecus cristatus) this year. Born on the February 22, the baby and its parents, Ripley and Oliver, are doing just fine. This bright orange baby monkey joins the Zoo’s other baby Langur, who was born on January 31 (as covered by ZooBorns)!  Both babies share the same father but have different moms.

“Visitors have been flabbergasted to see two orange babies instead of one,” says Kent Yamaguchi, Zoo Director. The January tyke has already started to venture away from its mother... and has been seen investigating this new addition to the family. Zoos are important places where people can learn about the need to conserve these amazing creatures."

Silvery Langur monkeys are born bright orange and turn silver-gray starting at about three to five months old. Mature Silvery Langurs weigh around 15 pounds when fully grown. In the wild, this monkey lives in the tropical forests of Indonesia and Malaysia where they are threatened by deforestation.

CU - Dina Orbison

Hang - Ethan Fisher

4 - Ethan Fisher
Photo Credits: Photo 1, 3, 4: Ethan Fischer, Photo 2, Dina Orbison

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Silvery Langur Baby Swings Into Santa Ana Zoo


The Santa Ana Zoo in Prentice Park is pleased to announce the birth of a Silvery Langur (Trachypithecus cristatus) on the 31st of January, 2012. The proud parents are Oliver and Daria. The yet to be named baby is the second offspring of this pair. Mom, dad and baby can be found at home in the primate area at the zoo.

Bright orange at birth with pale skin, over the first three to five months of life Silvery Langurs change to a grayish coat with a darker face and hands, and eventually weigh up to fifteen pounds.  Silvery Langurs are at home in the dense tropical forests of Indonesia and Malaysia where they are considered near threatened with a decreasing population mostly due to land clearance, often for palm oil plantations. Silvery Langurs are specialist leaf eaters with a digestive system adapted to ferment the tough cellulose material in leaves.  With a diet high in vegetation, Langurs will sit quietly for many hours digesting their food.   


Photo credits: Ethan Fisher

The Santa Ana Zoo has housed Silvery Langurs since 1984, and holds the longevity record for this species with a female reaching over 35 years of age.  This birth at the Santa Ana Zoo and was a collaborative effort with Species Survival Plan Program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  The mission of the AZA Species Survival Plan Programs is to manage and conserve select threatened or endangered, ex situ populations through the cooperation of AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums.

The new baby is on view for the public daily between 10:00AM and 4:00PM at the Santa Ana Zoo in Prentice Park, 1801 Chestnut Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92701.