With fewer than 50 ocelots thought to remain in Deep South Texas, the chance of seeing one in the wild is remote. However, this ocelot kitten estimated to be about four months old suddenly appeared late last year at a watering hole near the Visitors Center at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
Jody Mays, Biologist United States Fish and Wildlife Service, says, "We had a kitten that was estimated to be about four months old that all of a sudden popped up at the Visitor's Center photo blind area where visitors could see it. The visitors were the first ones to report it. |It was really, really unusual to come out in the middle of the day."
Biologists were puzzled by the sudden appearance of the normally nocturnal cat during daylight hours."
Mays says, "We put cameras around the area and were able to determine that the kitten was able to get with its mother."
Despite the fact that the little cat was being cared for by its mother, the kitten was found dead near the Visitors Center several days after first being observed.
"It was found to have died from an infection, and that sometimes happens in the wild. It is a rough life out there|When you have so few individuals known even the loss of one from natural causes like this really is a sad thing", says Mays.
Ocelots only have one litter per year normally consisting of one offspring, and the loss of this kitten to a bacterial injection is a tragic blow to recovery efforts, but there is good news regarding the kitten's mother."
Mays says, "Our recent trip camera photos suggest that she might be pregnant again so that is a good thing."