Call him El Conquistador!
An endangered Brazilian ocelot kitten was born at the Louisville Zoo Sept. 23. This was the first offspring for mom Miguela and second for father Itirapua.
The birth is very significant and important for the species. There are only 26 Brazilian ocelots in American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) institutions nationwide. The birth is also notable because of the passing on of Itirapua’s vital founder stock genetic diversity.
When Itirapua’s mother, who lived in the wild, was hit by a car, she was taken to a local animal hospital where Itirapua was born. He was named after that local Brazilian town—Itirapua. He is known as Itty for short.
“There are only seven Brazilian ocelots considered founder stock in AZA institutions,” said Louisville Zoo Assistant Animal Curator Candy McMahan. “So Itty’s genes are critical for the species.”
El Conquistador garnered his name when at 2 days old he wandered from his mother’s side and squeezed through fencing into a hallway for keeper staff on the back side of the exhibit.
“And he did all this when he was unable to see,” McMahan laughed. “He was so young, his eyes were still closed. So, we named him El Conquistador because he is definitely an explorer and conqueror.”
Ocelots are a new species to the Louisville Zoo, just arriving earlier this summer.
“Itty arrived with a reputation for being an aggressive male and not able to be introduced to a female,” McMahan said. “But our staff worked hard to get the pair trained and acquainted.”
The first time the pair was together, they bred.
“I am very proud of our staff here at the Zoo,” McMahan said. “They are dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable in working with cats and do an amazing job working with Itty and Miguela. We are thrilled with El Conquistador and couldn’t be happier. His genetic makeup is very important to the Brazilian ocelot species.”
McMahan said. “The current SSP [Species Survival Plan] goal is for the Brazilian ocelot population to top100 animals and that starts with successful births like El Conquistador.”
As with all babies, El Conquistador’s schedule varies and can be unpredictable. There currently are no set exhibit times to see mom Miguela and baby El Conquistador.
Brazilian ocelots, a subspecies of ocelots (there are eight), are native to Brazil and about three times the size of a housecat. They are one of the smallest felines found in the tropical rainforest.
Materials provided by Louisville Zoo. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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