This Christmas present is very rare
Wildlife refuge camera gets shot of ocelot mom, baby
By LYNN BREZOSKY
San Antonio Express-News
Jan. 6, 2009, 11:16PM
Rio Grande Valley biologists were thrilled after a trip camera snapped an image of an ocelot with her kitten, the first ocelot kitten spotted on the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in 11 years.
Ocelots are rare, with fewer than 100 remaining in the U.S. Of these, about half are believed to live in the refuge, the largest known population of breeding ocelots left in the country.
They are extremely elusive and are usually photographed only by unmanned trip cameras.
Biologists had been tracking a 3- to 4-year-old ocelot named Esperanza, Spanish for "Hope," since she was caught and tagged in 2008.
She was lactating at the time of the capture, but biologists believe her kitten died.
Her new kitten, photographed around Christmas, is believed to be 3 to 6 months old.
It is the youngest ocelot documented since 1997, when a lone kitten was found in a den at the refuge.
"We were downloading these images and were thrilled to find Esperanza, a young female ocelot, wasn't alone in the picture," refuge biologist Jody Mays said. "We know other kittens have been born on the Refuge since the late '90s. It's just that this is the first time a female ocelot and her young have been photographed together."
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org