And The Winner Is...Ayla!

Fri, 07/08/2011

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - July 8, 2011 - Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, the state's only Zoo, is pleased to announce the results of its ocelot kitten naming contest. 

The winning name, announced on the air Tuesday by WEBE 108 DJ Stormin' Norman, is Ayla,which means "moon light or strong, beautiful wise woman" in Portuguese. 

The two-week contest attracted more than 800 voters who chose their favorite name online via WEBE 108FM's Web site and ballot boxes placed throughout the Zoo. One lucky voter, Mark Letsch of Fairfield, won an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Zoo with Zoo Director Gregg Dancho as well as a private meet and greet with Zoo officials and representatives from WEBE 108. Additional names were selected at random to win family four-pack passes to the Zoo.

"This contest was a lot of fun and engaged folks of all ages who wanted to weigh in on what her name should be," explained Dancho. "Ayla is growing fast and everyone should come visit her while she's still in her playful kitten stage." 

"Ayla" received a majority of votes (33.5%) over the other name choices. All of the names translate into Portuguese as a nod to the kitten's Brazilian heritage. The results follow:

2nd choice: Chispa, meaning "spark" = 28.4% 
3rd choice: Beleza, "beauty" = 19.5%
4th choice: Lua, "moon" = 14%
5th choice: Davida, "gift" = 4.6%

Ayla was born in January thanks to a groundbreaking artificial insemination (AI) procedure. After three months of seclusion to bond with her mother, Kuma, mother and kitten were introduced to the public in the South American Rainforest building in mid-April. This rare kitten is the second born to Kuma, who 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.

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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