Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Saves Ocelots

We have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2013 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a 12 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

It has been six years  since I started asking my friends and family to donate money for ocelot research instead of giving me birthday gifts.  My 13th birthday is almost here and I will again ask my friends and family to help the endangered ocelot.   If you have not heard of the ocelot, they live in the scrub lands of south Texas, have a home range of about 4 square miles and are very close to extinction.  The loss of their habitat and new highways are the biggest reasons this cat is disappearing.  As more land is cleared for agriculture and development, more ocelots are being killed on the roads.    Basically, the ocelot is trapped.  It has developments or highways on all sides.  Sometimes the ocelots make it across busy highways to private ranches, but they don’t always make it past the cars.    Due to the isolation of our small Texas population of ocelots, they may be gone in the next 50 years.   Dr. Mike Tewes, who works at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M in Kingsville, is studying and monitoring the cats’ population on ranches and the dense shrub areas where they make their homes.  For the past six years, I’ve sent my birthday money to Dr. Tewes to help with his research.  He uses the money I send to buy and set up remote cameras which help him and other scientists record the number of ocelots found in an area.  Dr. Tewes and his team manage to capture ocelots to vaccinate and radio collar them.  He has gotten ranchers to set aside land for the cats and to restore brush lands.  Dr. Tewes is also working on possibly relocating ocelots from the Mexican state of Tamaulipas for breeding in Texas.

If you would like to take action and help the ocelot, there are a lot of different things you can do. I talked with my student council members at school and we decided to have a bake sale to benefit ocelot research.   Our goal was to not only make money for the remote cameras, but to raise awareness. Talk to your clubs and organizations at school to come up with an idea to help this cat.   If you would like to donate to ocelot research, you can visit my website, www.ocelotrescue.webstarts.com, and there is a link that takes you directly to Caesar Kleberg.



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