Mitch Sternberg, Lead Ocelot Biologist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, carefully removes a rare ocelot from a live trap at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in deep South Texas.
Less than 50 of the endangered cats remain in the wild in the United States, and this is the first ocelot biologists have been able to trap this year.
The young male weighs approximately 24 pounds and appears to be in excellent health. Biologists will thoroughly examine the cat and take a blood sample for later analysis.
Sternberg said, "We caught our first ocelot for the year, he's approximately a four year old male ocelot, which by our standards he just turned into an adult."
Assisting in the workup of the cat is Dr. Thomas deMarr, head veterinarian from the Gladys Porter Zoo.
"If they catch an ocelot I come out here and try to help, drop everything and drive out here|We also do the disease survey, for the last six years we run all of the blood work on the zoo's budget," deMarr said.
This particular ocelot was also captured last year, and wandered onto neighboring ranchland.
Sternberg said, "The radio collar that was attached fell off, and we knew that it would drop off. That was the intention of the collar that at some point it would fall off, and thankfully one of the private landowners around us allowed us to go in there and retrieve that collar so we could know the exact location and also to know that the ocelot was still safe and moving around."
After a thorough examination the captured ocelot is fitted with a new radio-transmitting collar and released into the wild.
And thanks to the cooperative efforts of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Gladys Porter Zoo, private landowners and others the future of the rare ocelot is a little brighter.