Animal Gallery

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OCELOTS

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About Ocelots

Ocelots are small cats that are found in the wild.  They are almost three times bigger than a house cat. They live in the forests and brushy areas in North, Central, and South America.  In the United States, they can be found only in the state of Texas.
They are known for their beautiful fur with its spots, lines and circles. They are shy and only come out to hunt and explore at night.

Why spots?

The ocelots’ spotted coat helps them to hide in the forest.

Eat and be Eaten

What do I eat? Ocelots are very good hunters. They eat small animals such as rabbits, mice, lizards, fish, birds, crabs, and frogs.
What eats me? Ocelots have to be very careful. They hunted by large snakes, bigger cats, and big eagles.

My View of the World

Ocelots have good hearing, good vision, and a great sense of smell. They are also good climbers, jumpers, and swimmers.

My home

Ocelots can be found in the forests and bushy areas. They like areas that have plants and trees they can hide in and walk under. They also like to be close to water so they can drink and fish. They don’t like to be out in the open.
Ocelots share their home with many other kinds of animals. They don’t share very well with other ocelots.  Males (boys) and females (girls) have their own home area they stay in. Males can go into the home areas of different females. They try to stay out of the home areas of other males.

Seriously? (Fun Facts)

• An ocelots’ tail can be one-third the length of its body.
• Ocelots start teaching their kittens to hunt when they are three months old.
• Ocelots are born with their eyes closed. They open them when they are two weeks old.

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Friends and Family

Adult ocelots mostly travel alone, but they do contact each other by making sounds or leaving smells. They make mewing and yowling sounds and leave scent marks on objects in the area.
Adult female ocelots can often be found walking around with their young.
Ocelot mothers are pregnant for 11-12 weeks. The kittens are born in dens in small caves or hollow trees.

Growing up

Ocelot babies are called kittens. There can be from one to four kittens in a litter. Mostly, there are just one or two. They nurse for nine months.
The kittens can take care of themselves by the time they are one year old. They may not leave home until they are two.

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Where you can find them at the zoo: The America’s Exhibit.
The Zoo has two ocelots: one male, named Opi and one female, named Ola. They live alone except when they come together to mate. Ola has successfully raised three kittens, who are now living at other zoos.
Look closely – Opi can be hard to see! He is in the left area. He likes to sleep on top of the rocks in the back of the exhibit. He has a nick in his left ear.
Ola lives in the area on the right. She likes to sleep next to the rocks in the front. She can often be seen walking around and rubbing on things. Ola is smaller than Opi and has a longer tail.

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Status

Ocelots are very rare in the United States. There are only about 100 animals left in the State of Texas.

Threats

For a long time, ocelots were hunted for their pretty fur.  Hunting ocelots for their fur is against the law now. Ocelots are sometimes killed by farmers who think the ocelots kill their small farm animals. Mostly, ocelots are in trouble because people are living where they used to live. We have made it hard for ocelots travel by putting roads, farms, and fences in their way.

Conservation Projects

Scientists are trying to find ways to make it easier for them to travel. Scientists and educators talk to people that live in the same places as ocelots so they know how to help.

What Our Zoo Does

Our Zoo supports the scientists by contributing money to ocelot research and educating people about ocelots.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) works with zoos that have ocelots to help them find good mates for their animals.  To make sure the best matches are found for all the animals, the AZA makes one plan that everyone is supposed to follow.  This is the ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP).  Our Zoo works with the ocelot SSP to find homes for our ocelot kittens at other zoos.

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