hear big catsNirvana

Female Ocelot
DOB 6/20/94
Rescued 7/24/94


Nirvana came to Big Cat Rescue from a broker on 7/27/94. He had left her at the vet’s office for dead because she was so dehydrated. Ocelots were once in great demand as pets thanks to their striking coats and small size. However, as with most exotic cats, their unpredictable nature and propensity for spraying soon changes people’s minds.

Many of these once beloved pets end up abandoned, sold to canned hunts or ultimately euthanized. Nirvana was rescued and raised at Big Cat Rescue where she now passes the time climbing trees, catnapping in her man-made cave and spraying the unsuspecting passersby. Nirvana also participates in the operant training program and is one of the specially selected cats that BCR Interns work with each week.





Sponsor Nirvana

Nirvana Ocelot on 360 Fly camera in 2016

 More About Nirvana

** Today at Big Cat Rescue, October 16th are two photos of Nirvana as well as photos of other cats here.


** Today at Big Cat Rescue, November 5th are a couple photos of nosey Nirvana checking out a coffee cup as well as photo of other cats here.

**  Stealing images become harder… Thankfully.   Someone asked us on Facebook what kind of cat this was; we knew it was an altered photo of Nirvana our ocelot. See the altered image and the original image and learn how to find your photos through Google.


**  Today at Big Cat Rescue, January 25th See a photo of Nirvana on her ramp.  There are also photos of feeding cats on this page.

** Today at Big Cat Rescue, September 8th.  See a photo of Nirvana that looks like an Elvis impersonation pose.  There are also some fun photos of other cats and volunteers doing what they do.

** Walkabout Video from May 3rd, 2014 has a little footage of Nirvana and Amazing grace.

** Walkabout Video of October 21, 2013 also has a little footage of Nirvana.

** (about ocelots in general) 5 Defendants Illegally Sold and Purchased Ocelots and Lied To Cover Up The Sales

** Nirvana is mentioned in the Keeper Walkabout (January 2009) as are many of the other cats.

** Nirvana is in the quarterly newsletter, “The Big Cat Times” Nirvana the ocelot had a swollen cheek. Turns out she had a few bad teeth. She was taken to Ehrlich. Animal Hospital where volunteer vet. Dr. Wynn extracted …

** On this page find out about ear rings that have photos of Raindance or Nirvana on them.

** Nirvana was mentioned and photoed in a magazine article

**  Nirvana made “The Big Cat Times” in 2011.  Nirvana was moved to a different enclosure. Since her previous home was in a location that did not lend itself to expansion it was connected to the Crazy Bobs …





hear big catsPurr-fection

Female Ocelot
DOB 5/25/96


Purrfection Ocelot in Favorite TreePURRfection, and her twin brother PURRsistance, were born at the sanctuary before it was known that no privately held exotic cats would ever be able to help preserve the species due to the inability to tract them back to the wild.

She is the epitome of the perfect looking ocelot, which explains her name.  Her markings are extraordinary and demonstrate why this species was almost hunted out of existence for its fur.  She is much more timid than any of the other ocelots at Big Cat Rescue.

Amazing Grace recently moved into a cat-a-tat adjacent to PURRsistance.  Since Amazing Grace is one of our most vocal, most social, and most pungent ocelots, we’ll soon see what PURRfection thinks about her new neighbor.

While some of our ocelots were born here prior to 1998 we quit breeding ocelots when we learned that there are no release programs for exotic cats.  They can never be free.  They should never be born for life in cages.

PurrFection-Ocelot-Will-Rhoades-1996-681 PurrFection-Ocelot-Will-Rhoades-1996-562




Sponsor PURRfection


Ocelot Facts

Ocelot Facts


Common Name: Ocelot
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felinae (Leopardus)
Species: pardalis
Misc: This cat is probably the best known of the South American cats because of its pelt being the mainstay of the fur trade, and for the fact that it was frequently kept as a pet. Due the fact that Ocelots are high strung, unpredictable, comedic little cats, humans de-fanged, de-clawed, de-scented, and altered these cats in order to make them conform to the “pet” industry. Like all exotic cats, these creatures, male or female, altered or not, spray a foul smelling urine on everything they wish to mark as theirs including their keepers. In the 1980’s, Ocelot fur coats sold for $40,000.00 and the live animal as a pet sold for $800.00. At one time, more than 200,000 ocelots per year were killed for their coats. Today, with laws prohibiting hunting for the fur trade, there are no Ocelot coats for sale, and the “pet” Ocelot is a thing of the past. At Easy Street, we have turned down offers of $15,000.00 for just one of ours!

Size and Appearance: The Ocelot is much larger than its cousins the Margay and the Oncilla, although they bear a striking resemblance. The Ocelot weighs between 17-24 pounds, stands 16-20 inches tall, and reaches lengths of 48-64 inches. Its coat tends to be more blotched than spotted, and the chain-like blotches and spots are bordered with black, but have a lighter colored center. These markings run the entire length of the cat. The ground color varies from whitish or tawny yellow through reddish gray to gray. The underside is white, and the backs of the ears are black with a central yellow spot.

In captivity, Ocelots have lived more than 20 years, as compared to 7-10 years in the wild.

Habitat: The Ocelot is found in very diverse habitats including rain forest, montane forest, thick bush, semi-deserts, coastal marsh, and along river banks, but it is never found in open country.

Distribution: Southern Texas, and every country south of the U.S. except Chile.

Reproduction and Offspring: After a gestation of 79-85 days they produce a litter of 1-2 young. They weigh approximately 8.5 ounces at birth. The females reach maturity at around 1½ years, and around 2 ½ years for males. They become independent at around 1 year of age, but seem to be tolerated in their natal range for up to another year.

Social System and Communication: Ocelots are solitary and territorial. The females defend their exclusive territory, which can be as much as 9 sq. miles, while the male’s territory is larger and overlaps that of 1 or more females (can be as large as 35 sq. miles). Ocelots communicate by use of scent markings which tells the males when she is ready for mating, and by vocal communications such as meows and yowls (in heat). Hear our purrs, hisses, snarls, calls, and growl sounds HERE

Hunting and Diet: The Ocelot is a terrestrial hunter and active during the night (nocturnal), and the mainstay of its diet are nocturnal rodents, such as cane mice, and marsh, spiny and rice rats, opossums and armadillos. They will also take larger prey such as lesser anteaters, deer, squirrel monkeys and land tortoises. They will also take advantage of seasonal changes and the abundance of fish and land crabs during the wet season. Occasionally, the will take birds and reptiles. However, the majority of prey items for this cat weigh less than 1-3% of its body weight.

Principal Threats: Ocelots have a small litter size, one of the longest gestations and growth rates among the small felids, and a high infant mortality rate. Add this difficulty in sustaining its own population with deforestation and habitat destruction, and the survival of this beautiful little species becomes even more difficult.

Status: IUCN: Not listed. CITES: Appendix I.

Felid TAG recommendation: Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). Although once commonly imported for pets, legal animals have not been available until the last 2 years, and today most ocelots are of unknown or hybrid ancestry. The TAG is recommending that the Brazilian ocelot, L. p. mitis, be the subspecies acquired by North American zoos because captive propagation now is occurring in some Brazilian zoos. Orphaned individuals also have been allowed to be exported. Recently three pairs were imported into North America by AZA zoos. The target population of this species is 120 individuals. Although only a PMP is in operation, the TAG recommends that it be upgraded to SSP status as soon as possible. The Brazilian Ocelot Consortium is the main focus for saving the ocelot.

How rare is this cat? The International Species Information Service lists 217 worldwide, with 108 being in the U.S.



Ocelots of BCR


Meet our ocelot friends:

Big Cat Rescue Wants to be the Only Big Cat Sanctuary

Big Cat Rescue Wants to be the Only Big Cat Sanctuary

That is the lie that animal abusers tell everyone to try and change the subject from protecting exotic cats to a message of mere competition.

Lion vs Tiger


They trot out their modified version of our 20 year plan to back up their ridiculous claims, but they leave out the most important part of the plan, which is that there no longer be big cats suffering in captivity, and thus no longer a need for sanctuaries, including Big Cat Rescue’s sanctuary.

As the public becomes better educated about why it is so wrong to breed wild cats for life in cages, they will cease to support industries that breed them as pay to play props, for circuses and other abusive purposes.  There will temporarily be an increased need for real sanctuaries, which are those who meet the following standards.

1.  Real sanctuaries do not breed exotic cats for life in cages.

2.  Real sanctuaries do not buy wild cats.

3.  Real sanctuaries do not sell their wildlife.

4.  Real sanctuaries do not let the public, nor their staff or volunteers handle the big cats, other than for veterinary purposes.

5.  Real sanctuaries do not endanger the public and the big cats by taking them off site for exhibition.


Big Cat Rescue LOVES real sanctuaries and helps them by:


1.  Providing guidance on best practices to help the sanctuary qualify for and obtain accreditation through the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

2. Hosting workshops and conferences for those who want to do the right thing for wild animals.

3.  Training volunteers and international interns in understanding that each animal is an individual who is to be respected and treated with dignity.

4.  Sending work groups of our own volunteers out to help after disasters and when other sanctuaries are short handed.

5.  Sharing the secrets of our success with those who demonstrate clearly that they are putting the animals first.


Those who exploit wild animals for their own gain hate us because they don’t want the public to know that:


1.  There is no reason to breed big cats in cages, as none of them in private hands can ever be set free.

2.  There is no captive breeding program that benefits conservation, other than AZA administered SSP programs.

3.  Paying to play with a cub or see one on display actually harms conservation efforts.

4.  Tigers could disappear from the wild because of the smoke screen caused by their legal breeding of generic tigers.

5.  A ban on private possession is the first step toward saving tigers in the wild.

Exploiters claim that if the Big Cats & Public Safety Act were to pass that they would be put out of business and wouldn’t be able to help “rescue” lions, tigers, leopards, ligers and other exotic cats, but that isn’t true.  Big Cat Rescue is one of the most successful sanctuaries in the world and we do it by being open, honest and treating the cats with kindness and respect.  We want sanctuaries to thrive, and they can do that if they employ the same attitudes and behaviors that we have in being a real sanctuary.

Any real sanctuary, who is doing their work for the animals and not their own sense of satisfaction, will share our goal of a world where all wild cats live free.

Now at Big Cat Rescue Oct 3 2014

Now at Big Cat Rescue Oct 3 2014

Genie the Sandcat is rushed to the vet when her keepers note that she is acting weird.


Genie Sandcat was sedated in a glass box used for domestic cats.



This was to make sedation easier on her since she is only 3.3 pounds and 14 years old.



Dr. Wynn keeps a close eye on her vitals.



The monitors are just all over the place, so she has to rely on feel, sound and instincts.



For such an old and tiny cat, Genie Sandcat has some fearsome teeth!



The tiniest mask straps are too big, so Carole holds the gas mask in place.



Sandcats are the softest of the exotic cat species.



No spinal issues and her lungs don’t look terrible, but she has a case of bronchitis.



This is good news, because Genie Sandcat is given a long lasting antibiotic shot and has a good chance at recovery.



Dr. Wynn gives her fluids, steroids and antibiotics to help tiny little Genie fight off her symptoms.



Genie Sandcat’s paw is the size of the tip of Jamie Veronica’s finger.




Sandcat paws are fully furred on the bottom for running on desert sands.


Violations at Big Cat Facilities 2011-2014


The USDA site doesn’t work most of the time and when it does it is so slow that most browsers will time out and quit before you can download the information you are looking for.  This information is current as of Oct. 3, 2014.

USDA Facilities with big cats who have had citations

USDA Facilities with big cats who have had repeat violations

USDA Facilities with repeat violations for all animal species



Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

hear big cats

Female Ocelot

DOB 5/1/92 –6/11/2014

Arrived at Big Cat Rescue 9/27/96


Amazing Grace the Ocelot

Amazing Grace was reported to be a three-year-old female ocelot when she arrived on 9/27/96, but appears to be much older. Her ears were very tattered because the place where she lived before had cats with common walls; meaning that one wall of the cage was shared between adjoining cats. When Amazing Grace would rub against the wire, the cat next to her would bite off pieces of her ears trying to get a grip on her. She is safe from harm now and has her own large natural enclosure.

She is affectionately called Gracie by the volunteers at Big Cat Rescue. Gracie has the boldest personality of all the ocelots. She makes her presence known with her guttural voice and greets everyone with enthusiasm. Gracie is also very high strung and loves attention of all sorts, especially operant training sessions. Gracie gets so excited during training sessions and does not want them to end or the keepers to leave. So when keepers end an operant session they must leave behind some enrichment for her to play with. This way Gracie can keep entertaining herself for as long as she wants.




See More About Amazing Grace, the Ocelot (AKA Gracie):

See a video of Amazing Grace rolling around shredding toilet paper –


Tributes to Amazing Grace:

Song Tribute to Amazing Grace by Desmond Fowles

We think Amazing Grace was 22 when she was euthanized on June 11, 2014, but she may have been a lot older. She seemed amazingly healthy, right up until the last few days, her necropsy showed advanced heart disease and renal failure.

She had come from a breeder, who could get $15,000 for an ocelot kitten, but said Amazing Grace was four and too old to breed. Apparently she had been kept in a cage where their were shared walls with a male, who must have bitten off her ear tips trying to pull her through the wall.

What we do know about Amazing Grace is that she arrived in 1996 and became one of the cats who inspired the frequent statement from volunteers and visitors alike who said, “Gracie is my favorite cat!” Who couldn’t love her enthusiasm for life?

Even though ocelots are primarily nocturnal in captivity, Amazing Grace would never pass up an opportunity to come trotting out, making her guttural, ocelot vocalizations and begin rubbing wildly on the cage wall next to the target of her affections. Amazing Grace knew how to score extra treats and enrichment on a scale that has never been matched by any other cat here.

Her little corner of the world seems so quiet now. It is sad to pass by her triplex and know that all that is left of her is her scent that will probably permeate her favorite spraying tree forever. Some other lucky cat will get her space one day, but will have awfully big paws to fill.