A blue-eyed Ocelot kitten born a the Dallas Zoo won’t stay that way for long. As the kitten matures, its eyes will naturally turn brown. But that won’t make it any less adorable.
Born in the middle of the night on March 20, the kitten is learning its first lessons in hunting – but instead of capturing rodents, this little kitten uses its mother’s tail as its prey. Its mother, Milagre, takes it all in stride.
This is the second kitten for six-year-old Milagre. Keepers continue to give Milagre and her baby privacy, and will conduct a well-baby checkup within the next few days. The baby’s weight and gender will be determined at that time, and he or she will be given a name.
“Milagre is once again embracing motherhood tremendously,” said Lisa Van Slett, carnivore assistant supervisor. “She manages a lot with her energetic newborn and makes it took effortless.”
Ocelots are found throughout much of South America, Central America, and Mexico, with Texas at the far northern edge of their range. Fewer than 50 wild Ocelots are thought to survive in Texas, and they face severe threats from human encroachment in their native habitat.
“Their territory used to cover all of Texas, and now it’s rare to find one in the wild,” said Van Slett.
Milagre will remain the sole caretaker of her kitten, since Ocelots are solitary by nature. The two are expected to venture out to the Ocelot habitat soon. That’s also when the kitten will meet its neighbors – dad Joaquin and Rufus, a bobcat – for the first time.
Joaquin and Milagre were paired by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP) in 2011. As a member of the SSP, the Dallas Zoo works with other zoological parks to ensure that the Ocelot gene pool remains healthy and genetically sound.