Posts Tagged With: ocelot

Dallas Zoo to close historic Cat Row, says goodbye to Texas cats

Bobcat Rufus was once a wild cat who was rescued by the Dallas Zoo in 2001.

As we look to continue building updated, naturalistic habitats, we’re closing our oldest animal exhibit located within ZooNorth – Cat Row, featuring our Texas felines.

Mountain lion Apollo will remain with his best pal Lakai in their new Bridgeport, Texas home.

Our male bobcat, male and female ocelot pair, and male cougar pair will all be relocated to other respected institutions ahead of the closure. The zoo will host a goodbye weekend on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1, so guests can say farewell to the beloved animals.

The habitat was originally built in the late 1930s with Federal Works Project Administration (WPA) labor and funding, and Centennial bond money. Over the decades, it has undergone renovations and design improvements, but we’re ready to say goodbye to the small piece of history.

“As one of the nation’s top zoos, we pride ourselves on continuously evolving and building bigger and better habitats for our animals,” said Harrison Edell, Dallas Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Operations and Welfare. “Cat Row doesn’t reflect Dallas Zoo’s progressive philosophy of care. There’s no doubt our cats are well cared for, and live enriched lives here – their home just doesn’t represent our growth and vision, and it’s time for change.”

The five cats will begin moving to their new homes over the next month. The first feline to leave, bobcat Rufus, has an interesting history at the zoo. He was rescued as a young, wild cat in 2001 after he killed three of the zoo’s small antelopes, known as dik-diks.

The Texas Department of Health recommended he be euthanized to test for rabies, but zoo officials urged that the zoo was a great isolation facility, which meant the risk for infection was low. Estimated to be 17 years old, Rufus leaves the Dallas Zoo on Sept. 26 and will retire to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation center in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Ocelot Joaquin and his mate Milagre will stay together at the Audubon Zoo.

On Oct. 6, male and female ocelots, Joaquin and Milagre, will head to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. Joaquin and Milagre have welcomed two babies together at the Dallas Zoo as part of a pairing through the Ocelot Species Survival Plan. The duo will remain together and continue to provide their valuable genes to the SSP through their breeding recommendation.

As early as late October, bonded mountain lion males, Apollo and Lakai, will move to the nearby Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) in Bridgeport, Texas, where they’ll open a new habitat that’s nearly three times the size of their current home. Both cats were rescued as cubs in Canada and are estimated to be around 7 years old. They were brought together at the Dallas Zoo in 2010 and have been inseparable ever since.

“Moving these amazing cats wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s what’s best for them. We’re confident they’ll live safe, healthy lives in their new homes,” said Edell. “We want nothing more than for our guests to fall in love with wildlife in the right setting, and to support us as we find ways to create a better world for animals.”

As we build out our master plan for ZooNorth, we’ll initially use Cat Row as a much-needed extension to our outdoor event space. The zoo’s annual Halloween Nights event returns Oct. 26-29. Then coming to ZooNorth on Nov. 17, the park will transform in the evening into Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant, with nearly one million twinkling lights and illuminated displays, entertainment, arts and crafts, and holiday-themed drinks and snacks. The inaugural Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant spans 33 nights, through Jan. 2.

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Conservation concerns brought to life with interactive art displays from 9th graders

Conservation concerns about animals may not be top of mind for most teenagers, but the ninth graders at Village Tech High School are far from typical.

The students from the Cedar Hill charter school were challenged this past spring to think deeply about endangered animals for a semester-long project integrating many different school subjects with an end goal of a prototype interactive sculpture.

A partnership with the Dallas Zoo elevated the original challenge by giving the students the opportunity to talk with experts and possibly have their work displayed to the public.

“The Zoo gives the project credibility and an authentic audience,” said Justin Robinson, the director of the Forge, the school lab that brought these projects to life.

By the end of the year, the ninth graders completed four interactive art display prototypes highlighting the ocelot, African elephant, hawksbill sea turtle and western lowland gorilla. These projects used art, engineering, science and more to tell the tale of endangered species.

“We want every project to result in people taking action,” said Dallas Zoo director of Education, Marti Copeland. “[Their work] exceeded my expectations.”

Learn more about each project:

Western lowland gorilla African elephant

gorilla

The western lowland gorilla team planned to create a gorilla sculpture that looks like it is covered in concrete, emphasizing the habitat destruction that is threatening the animal’s population.

elephant

This team created a mechanical sculpture showing the stride of an adult elephant. An integrated 15 minute countdown clock reminds the public how often an elephant is killed in the wild for its ivory.

Ocelot Hawksbill sea turtle

ocelot

The ocelot team created a sand timer wheel with facts about the carnivore. As you spin the wheel and read the facts about ocelots, the sand timer continually empties, much like the ocelot species in the wild.

hawksbill

The team created a hologram projection of a hawksbill sea turtle swimming. It’s activated with a 3D-printed button. The team tried using living dinoflagellates marine plankton to illuminate the activation button.

The hawksbill sea turtle and African elephant projects were selected by Zoo judges to be scaled up and adapted into public displays at the Children’s Aquarium and Dallas Zoo.

It’s onto the (now) tenth graders to press on with the projects. With the conceptual idea and prototypes created, they must solve more problems like how to scale up the sculptures, make them self-maintaining and safe for the public before eventually debuting the sculptures at the two venues.

Congratulations to the students at Village Tech. We can’t wait to see these larger-than-life projects with important message inside our Zoo and Aquarium gates!

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Meet our blue-eyed (for now), rare ocelot kitten

DSC_0072 Ocelot Kitten logo

Since ocelots are very secretive, zookeepers set up a private den box in which Milagre could give birth.

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.”

DSC_0056 Ocelot Kitten logo

This little one’s baby blues will change to brown as it gets older.

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.

DSC_1001a-Ocelot kitten logo

Keeper Caron O. photographs the kitten just days old.

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.

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