The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states thanks to new approaches in field-ready semen sampling and freezing developed by their partners at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden led by Dr. Bill Swanson, wildlife biologists at Laguna Atascosa NWR have successfully collected the first semen sample ever from a wild ocelot.
This significant step in ocelot conservation will assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners in future ocelot recovery efforts, such as evaluating possible effects of population inbreeding and long-term semen banking to conserve genetic diversity.
Field participants included USFWS Wildlife Biologist Sara Miller, Student Conservation Association Ocelot Program interns Kathryn Shupe, Kelly Crandall, and Christopher Hickling, led by USFWS Wildlife Biologist Dr. Hilary Swarts.
In a news release, the zoo’s Dr. Swanson stated “The U.S. ocelot population is on the edge of extinction so these efforts to collect and freeze semen from the few wild males that remain in the fragmented thorn-scrub habitat of South Texas may have important implications for their future survival.”
The entire Texas ocelot population is down to about 80 individuals, with ~15 ocelots residing in Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (LANWR), where the sample was collected, and the remainder found on private ranchlands.