Monday 14 October, 2019

Endangered ocelot kittens born in Arizona from frozen semen

Photo courtesy the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Photo courtesy the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

The ocelot, which is listed in the US as a federally endangered species, may have a better chance of survival with the birth of an ocelot kitten at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

The animal is also native to Trinidad and Tobago and is an Environmentally Sensitive Species.

The Museum shared adorable photos of the new addition to social media earlier this week after the successful birth, which was the result of a project done in collaboration with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, and the El Paso Zoo. 

The Desert Museum said the kitten was born to the Museum's resident female adult ocelot. 

The Museum said as a result of the project two litters of ocelots have been born, following artificial insemination (AI) with frozen semen.

Amazingly, the Museum said the last time ocelots were born using frozen semen was 24 years ago.

"When loss of habitat, severely reduced species population, and limited gene pool are the critical issues facing an endangered species, what options are at hand to create a positive outcome?

"With the global ocelot population declining, the Desert Museum has collaborated with some of the world’s foremost breeding experts and has employed the most sophisticated of modern methods available to combat the extinction of this small rare cat.

"Why do we do this you ask? In 1981 the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program was developed as an ambitious global blueprint to help ensure the survival of species that are threatened or endangered in the wild.

"The Ocelot SSP oversees approximately 95 ocelots cared for at 52 North American zoos and the Desert Museum was identified as a desirable partner.

"A recent result of the Museum’s global collaboration is a small, tawny fur ball – a kitten born to Arieta, the Museum’s resident adult female ocelot! 

"We know it is a super bummer, but the kitten and mother will not be able to seen by the public so as to reduce any stress to the pair. Thank you for the continued support of the Desert Museum and otherThe Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited facilities. It is because of your support that we can continue this incredibly important conservation work that will help rebuild ocelot population numbers,
" the Museum said.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the ocelot, which is native to this country, is listed as an Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS). The animal is vulnerable to poaching as well as loss of habitat. 

The ocelot, which has been shown to reside in the Aripo Savannas, faces an additional loss of migratory routes due to the construction of the Valencia-Toco Highway, which seals off the Savannas from other nearby forest reserves.

In January 2019 the Emperor Valley Zoo also welcomed a baby ocelot as a result of their breeding programme. 

Find out more about the Ocelot Species Survival Plan here: 

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