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New technique to preserve ocelot genetic diversity

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LOS FRESNOS, TX – A new hope for the endangered ocelot. A new procedure from the Cincinnati zoo is now being implemented right here in the Rio Grande Valley.

In short, biologists are collecting male semen samples from wild ocelots and freezing them for research. It’s an exciting development for those looking to preserve the endangered cats.

“This is the very first time this has been done on a wild cat, let alone an ocelot in the field,” says Hilary Swarts, a wildlife biologist at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.  

Right now there’s an estimated 80 ocelots nationwide with about 15 expected at the refuge.

Their goal is to collect as much of the current genetic diversity as possible. These sperm samples cold be used for artificial insemination or studying male ocelot’s ability to reproduce.

“Are these guys able to get females pregnant?” says Swarts, “yes… we haven’t lost the wild ocelot’s ability to make more wild ocelots.”

Trapping season is fast approaching at the refuge, meaning they may have more ocelot samples to study. It’s a procedure the wildlife refuge plans to implement moving forward.

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