NY: Two ocelots will move to Syracuse zoo

Money needed to prepare their home and pay for their move and quarantine.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
By Delen Goldberg
Staff writer

Syracuse’s zoo family will grow by two this spring when a mother-daughter pair of ocelots arrive in Central New York.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park is bringing the small South American cats from their current home at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. They are expected to arrive in late spring.

The trip won’t be cheap: Zoo officials need to raise about $32,000, spokeswoman Lorrell Walter said. About $24,000 will be spent to create a home for the ocelots. About $8,000 will pay for the cats’ transportation and quarantine.

“It’s really cool that we’re getting them here because we’re all about conservation,” Walter said.

Ocelots are an endangered species. Their population has dwindled in recent years because people hunt them for their pelts and keep them as pets. Wildlife experts believe there are only about 120 wild ocelots living in the United States. An additional 217 live in zoos worldwide, with 108 of them in America, according to the International Species Information Service.

When the ocelots arrive in Syracuse, they will take over what is now the zoo’s sloth exhibit, Walter said. The sloths will move to a new area, and their former exhibit will be refurbished to fit the ocelots’ needs.

“They have two totally different sets of needs, and of course, we want to make sure the animals are comfortable,” Walter said.

The zoo’s staff has launched an “ocelot appeal” to raise money for the spotted cats. As of Thursday, it had collected $24,399, Walter said.

“There are so many people that are cat fans,” Walter said. “People seem to like it when we bring fur to the zoo.”

Delen Goldberg can be reached at dgoldberg@syracuse.com or 470-2274.

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