Sunday, February 21, 2010

Texas girl hopes birthday raises ocelot awareness

By Katlynn Lanham
The Facts
Published February 20, 2010

LAKE JACKSON — At an age when toys and having fun with friends usually is a top priority, Carolyn Jess believes there are more important things to life.

After using her eighth birthday party to raise money to help the Texas blind salamander, she has decided to use her ninth birthday to help the ocelot.

“Who else is going to do it?” Carolyn said.

Both animals are endangered and make their home in Texas, the Lake Jackson girl said. The ocelot is in danger of extinction in Texas because of increased human population, she explained — they are hit by cars and lose their habitat.

An ocelot has a spotted coat and is twice the size of the average house cat, Carolyn said. They are nocturnal and live in the Texas brush country, as well as in South and Central America.

“It’s a fun project,” said Stephanie Jess, Carolyn’s mom. “It’s teaching her to be a good person and she doesn’t need more toys.”

Though Carolyn won’t be getting any presents at her March 7 birthday party, she still plans to have a fun time. Her party will include a mad scientist and guests will learn why the ocelot needs their help, Carolyn said.

Last year, Carolyn’s birthday party raised $601 that went toward research aimed at keeping the Texas blind salamander alive. This year, she is hoping for even more money for research and protection of the ocelot.

While her goal is noble, her efforts would be fruitless without the help of family, friends and area residents willing to donate toward the cause, Stephanie Jess said.

To donate money toward helping the ocelot, e-mail Stephanie Jess at bcsjess(at)sbcglobal.net. Checks should be made payable to Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. Write cat conservation fund on the memo line. Mail the checks to Michael E. Tewes, Ph.D., TAMUK, 700 University Blvd., MSC 218, Kingsville, TX 78363.

Katlynn Lanham is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0150.

http://thefacts.com/story.lasso?ewcd=c76f778ee05936a0

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

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