Ocelots

The Texas State Aquarium welcomed two young, sister ocelots named Milla and Leeloo, who arrived from the ABQ BioPark in Albuquerque, New Mexico in late March 2021 as part of the ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP).

The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ocelots are one of the most elusive and solitary animals in North America. This makes them difficult to track and study, but conservationists estimate that, in the United States, only 50 to 80 ocelots remain in the wild. Ocelots have been pushed into two tiny population pockets in deep South Texas, creating isolated gene pools. The surviving U.S. ocelot populations primarily live on large, private ranches in the south Texas brush country. As ocelot numbers continue to decline so does the genetic diversity necessary to maintain healthy, wild breeding populations.

The ocelots at Texas State Aquarium are participating in the ocelot SSP, which is cooperatively managed by accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Aquarium’s exhibits department worked with Texas A&M University Kingsville’s range management team to design and equip the ocelots’ home. They have designed a Texas brush country habitat and identified a horticulture plan to ensure the ocelots will be comfortable.