Ashley Reeves, a PhD student in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Veterinary Medicine, artificially inseminated a female ocelot at the Albuquerque Biopark Zoo using sperm recovered from a deceased wild male ocelot. It was the first time anyone had produced a pregnancy in a zoo-born female ocelot. The procedure was an important step in efforts to conserve endangered cat species so they can persist into the future.
Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) are medium-sized felines weighing around 20 to 30 pounds with sleek spotted coats. They are primarily solitary, nocturnal cats, with a diet of small mammals, rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.
While people manage zoo-housed ocelots’ reproduction to maintain genetic diversity, it’s a different story for their wild relatives. Only 50 to 80 ocelots are known to exist in the wild in the US—a population too small to be sustainable in the long term. Because of their diminished numbers, they are at risk of inbreeding, and they face ongoing threats of habitat loss and fragmentation and vehicle strikes.
Reeves is continuing her efforts to use artificial insemination to maintain wild ocelot populations. Read the full article on The Conversation.
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Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375, firstname.lastname@example.org)