TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - A rare ocelot kitten, a female, was born at one of southern Arizona’s most popular spots - the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.
According to the Desert Museum, the kitten was born in March to Arieta, the museum’s resident female ocelot. This kitten is one of two litters born in March, the second litter was born at the El Paso Zoo - one male and one female kitten survived. All three kittens were fathered via artificial insemination (AI) by the same 16-year-old ocelot, Principe, who currently resides at the Houston Zoo. The first (and last) birth of an ocelot via AI happened over 24 years ago, according to the museum.
This birth was the result of a collaboration between the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, the El Paso Zoo and the Desert Museum, as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP began back in 1981, to help ensure the survival of species that are threatened or endangered in the wild.
Ocelots are rare, just one of 25 endangered animal and plant species that are featured at the Desert Museum. They are medium-sized, short-haired cats that are elusive and solitary, preferring habitats that offer dense cover like thorn scrub, live oak and riparian areas.
The Ocelot SSP oversees the 95 animals that are cared for at 52 zoos in North America, including the two (now three) that are housed at the Desert Museum.
Right now the public will not be able to see the kitten or her mother, as to reduce stress on the pair. However, the museum’s male ocelot will be out and about, while museum staff will be posting photos of the kitten on its Facebook page.