Ocelot Conservation Day
Join us in celebrating the beautiful ocelot of the Rio Grande Valley at Ocelot Conservation Day! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and the Gladys Porter Zoo are hosting a special day to highlight ocelots, the small, wild cats native to South Texas. There will be a variety of fun ocelot related activities for families to enjoy.
On the main stage we will have an ocelot from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program. The event is free with regular paid admission or Zoo membership.
On the main stage experience the unique opportunity of seeing a leash-trained ocelot up-close and without bars. Listen to the plight of these endangered predators and what is being done to meet the challenges to their survival. Sihil, an ocelot, from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program will be giving free shows at 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Although the performance is free, space is limited so come early to get your ticket.
In addition to the live ocelot performances, there will great activities for kids and adults! Kids can make arts and crafts like an ocelot mask or watch a special ocelot program. There will be displays with ocelot related artifacts and conservation information along with prizes.
For adults, learn about the local ocelot population at Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge. Ocelot biologist,, will be on hand to report on the latest research. The Native Plant Project organization will have a display on native plants and sell native potted plants and their plant booklets.
The ocelot is listed as a federally endangered animal. In the United States, ocelots were originally found throughout Texas and into Arkansas and Louisiana. Today, fewer than 50 of these native wild cats are estimated to be left in the U.S., all of which are found in South Texas. These animals live exclusively in thorn scrub habitat and their habitat and thus their populations are diminishing rapidly. Habitat loss and getting hit by cars are the greatest threats to their long-term survival.
The Animal Health Department at the Gladys Porter Zoo is actively involved in assisting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services with ocelot health monitoring at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (LANWR). When an ocelot is trapped, a GPZ veterinarian will go to LANWR to give the ocelot a physical exam and full medical work-up. This includes a battery of testing to determine overall health and to detect internal and external parasites and infectious diseases.
The Gladys Porter Zoo also supports and is active in the Bi-national Ocelot Recovery Project. For more information on LANWR and other Rio Grande Valley wildlife refuges visit: fws.gov/refuge/Laguna_Atascosa/.