The population at the El Paso Zoo grew by two, as officials announced Thursday the birth of two baby ocelots.
First-time mom, Lindy, gave birth to an unusually large litter of four kittens on March 2. Ocelots normally have litters of one to two kittens.
Unfortunately, a male kitten was stillborn and a female kitten was not healthy enough to survive. The two remaining kittens, a male and a female, survived and are doing well.
The ocelot is a medium-size, short-haired cat with distinctive markings that serve as camouflage. The ocelot is listed as endangered by the State of Texas.
The birth of the baby ocelots are momentous because Lindy was artificially inseminated (AI) from semen samples that were collected and frozen in 2010 from a male ocelot, Principe, when he was housed at the Cleveland Zoo.
“These births are highly significant because this is the first time in 24 years that AI with frozen semen has been successful in ocelots. Because it was successful, it opens up the possibility for others zoos to increase genetic diversity using the same procedure,” said Zoo Area Supervisor of the El Paso Zoo Amanda Stansbury.
“This is great coordination effort between Species Survival Plan participants in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help preserve the species.”
Researchers at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) coordinated between the El Paso Zoo, the Houston Zoo and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to AI Lindy.
Principe is also father to another ocelot kitten that was born from frozen semen AI at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the day before Lindy gave birth.