There’s nothing a loving mother wouldn’t do for her baby. For ocelot mom Milagre, that means staying patient and calm while her newborn uses her head as a launch pad, tackles her feet and tail as if she’s an escaping enemy and, of course, uses her head as the world’s comfiest sleeping pillow.
This Mother’s Day, we honor 6-year-old Milagre, who recently gave birth to her second kitten. Born in the middle of the night March 20, the baby is thriving under the constant nurturing love of her mother.
Keepers continue to give Milagre and her baby privacy, and will conduct a well-baby checkup within the next few days. The baby’s weight and gender will be determined then. Plus, he or she will get a moniker. But fixate on this kitten’s deep baby blues now, because its eyes will eventually change to brown.
“Milagre is once again embracing motherhood tremendously,” said Lisa Van Slett, carnivore assistant supervisor. “She manages a lot with her energetic newborn and makes it took effortless.”
Native to Texas, ocelots face severe threats across the Lone Star State as they are pushed out when their homes are paved over. With fewer than 50 wild ocelots estimated to be living in Texas, this kitten’s birth is helping ensure the survival of this remarkable cat predator species.
“It’s concerning when we hear guests say they didn’t know ocelots are native Texas cats,” said Van Slett. “Their territory used to cover all of Texas, and now it’s rare to find one in the wild.”
Milagre will remain the sole caretaker of her kitten, since ocelots are solitary by nature. The two are expected to venture out to the ocelot habitat any day now. That’s also when the kitten will meet its neighbors – dad Joaquin and Rufus, a bobcat – for the first time.
Joaquin and Milagre were matched as a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP) in 2011. As a member of the SSP, the Dallas Zoo works with other zoological parks to ensure that the ocelot gene pool remains healthy and genetically sound.
This is our fourth ocelot kitten. We welcomed Milagre’s first baby, Lindy, in June 2013. Lindy won the hearts of Texans and fans across the country with her big blue eyes and playfully innocent antics. The other two births were in 2001 and 1956. Lindy is now living at the El Paso Zoo where she’s been matched by the SSP with a mate.
If you’d like to help protect Texas ocelots, consider buying a “Save Texas Ocelots” license plate.