Public Invited to Meet Endangered Brazilian Ocelot Kitten Beginning April 16

Tue, 04/12/2011

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - April 12, 2011 - Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is pleased to announce that the rare endangered ocelot kitten born in January will be on exhibit beginning Saturday, April 16, 2011.  The public is invited to visit the as-yet-unnamed female kitten in the South American Rainforest building just in time for April vacation.  Mother and kitten have been in seclusion bonding and have only been separated once, in early March, for the kitten's first doctor's exam.  The kitten is the world's first endangered cat to be produced by Oviductal Artificial Insemination (AI).

"Since we announced her birth, the public has been anxiously awaiting the chance to see her," explained Gregg Dancho, director, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo.  "She is a very healthy, active kitten and is growing quickly."

This AI kitten is the second born to the mother, Kuma, who previously gave birth in 2008 to a healthy kitten conceived using the traditional AI method.  Kuma is the first ocelot ever to have multiple pregnancies and kittens produced by AI.  

Kuma, age 6, and Ozzie, the father, age 11, underwent artificial reproductive procedures at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo on November 2, 2010.  Ozzie underwent electroejaculation for semen collection and Kuma underwent artificial insemination.  Ozzie was transported from Salisbury Zoo in Maryland to Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo for the procedure and was returned shortly thereafter.

Kuma's first kitten, Milagre, (Portuguese for "miracle"), was born on Oct. 31, 2008.  Because Kuma had been injured as a kitten and lost one of her rear legs as a consequence, she is incapable of natural breeding with a male and could only become pregnant by AI.  Because of Ozzie's age, diminished sperm count presented a challenge to his ability to reproduce.  Milagre has been transferred to the Dallas Zoo to make room for her mother and sister to be on exhibit.

Brazilian ocelots have been on the endangered species list for more than 25 years.  As one of only 30 Brazilian ocelots maintained in North American zoos, Kuma is very important genetically to the captive population. Her ability to become pregnant after AI on two separate occasions is a testament to the scientific knowledge gained from nearly 20 years of reproductive research with domestic cats and ocelots. 

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