Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Texas Ocelot – Endangered and Still Declining

Meet Rio, the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary's resident Ocelot!

Rio came to IEAS from the El Paso Zoo after she was retired from the Species Survival Program (SSP). The goal of the SSP is to manage specific and threatened/endangered species populations within AZA accredited zoos and aquariums, certified facilities (such as IEAS), and approved non-member participants. Rio started off shy when she arrived, but with help from our emotional enrichment program, she has become a curious little cat, enjoying exploring her habitat at night. 

The ocelot is wild cat that use to wander several parts of the southern states, such as Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Today, however, there are less than 50 ocelots in the United States and they rely heavily on the remnant thorn forests of South Texas. Currently, they are primarily found roaming the forests of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

Deforestation has been a major factor in the decline of ocelots. Forests have been cut for their timber and for urban development, leaving these cats with no place to live. These wild cats have also been subjected to the fashion world. Many feel a very unnecessary need to have that ocelot-lined fur coat leaving these creatures on the critically endangered list.

However, there is still a chance for these beautiful cats! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services are continuing to research the ocelots at Laguna Atascosa to determine what they need and how to further their survival for the future. They are working closely with the Texas Department of Transportation to build safe wildlife crossings for these guys, such as funnels that allow them to cross under roads so they can establish new territories and find mates. Experts in the U.S. and Mexico are also proposing translocation as a possibility. Translocating would involve moving the ocelots from the United Stated to Mexico.

What You Can Do
  1. Visit the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge so that you can have the opportunity to see these guys in their natural habitat. They are open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Address: 22817 Ocelot Road
Los Fresnos, Texas 78566
  1. Be cautious while driving. These cats are subject to getting hit by unaware drivers. =( Please pay attention to speed limits and critters crossing the road.
  2. Plant and protect native trees on your property. Every tree helps!
  3. Volunteer at your closest Wildlife Refuge/Sanctuary. Learn as much as you can to keep informed and inform others!
  4. Support ocelots through the Adopt an Ocelot program at www.friendsofsouthtexasRefuges.org or call the Refuge at 956-748-3607
Please Report Ocelot Sightings!
Whether the ocelot is dead or alive, this information can be very helpful.
Please IMMEDIATELY call:
  • Law Enforcement Dispatch: 956-784-7520
  • Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge: 956-748-3607, ext.111
  • Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge: 956-784-7500
Provide important information, including your name, phone number, the location you saw the wild cat, time, and type of sighting (dead or alive); identifying marks that confirm it was an ocelot and not a bobcat; and directions to the location and details of the sight.
If you find a dead ocelot, please stay away from the carcass if you can until the United States Fish and Wildlife Services arrive.

Come tour the sanctuary and visit Rio!
Tours are Sunday through Friday at 11:00am and Saturday at 11:00am and 3:00pm.

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