The Texas State Aquarium proudly welcomed Milla 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 will participate in the ocelot SSP, which is cooperatively managed by accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
In June of 2022, Leeloo was recommended to join the animal collection at Gladys Porter Zoo as part of the Ocelot SSP. Although Milla and Leeloo came to TSA together, they are currently being managed separately, as ocelots are primarily solitary animals. This is an important move for the species, as GPZ is one of the closest AZA-accredited facilities to some of the last known wild populations of Texas ocelots. They are also playing an active role in monitoring the health of the wild ocelot population located in the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, which is located in nearby Los Fresnos, Texas. We are confident that this is the best move for Leeloo. She will continue to receive the best standard of care at her new home while continuing to educate guests about the critically endangered ocelot population in Texas. Milla remains at the Texas State Aquarium.