Oakey Ocelot Came From Hoffman’s Circus


Male Ocelot

1987 – 11/20/03

Male Ocelot born in 1987 came to us on 12/20/93 as his retirement from the circus.  As a circus animal, he lived in a small portable cage most of his life, in the back of an ammonia filled trailer. He found happiness here with Samantha where he lived until 11/20/03.


“When I began to volunteer 5 yrs ago by cleaning cages, Oakey was one of the cats who made an impression on me. I was both captivated and a bit frightened. You see he, being the epitome of Ocelots, lived up to their reputation of having that slinky, striking, and gorgeous coat, but also fiercely ominous guttural growl and purposeful walk. As I got to know him, I thought of him as one part David Copperfield as I observed that he was clever enough to outsmart most of us with his schemey, disappearing and appearing ways in his cat-a-tat, and one part Archie Bunker in a fur coat due to his in-your-face, cranky disposition. But, over time, I realized that the sum of those attributes was just what he was intended to be. His striking looks and beautiful coat were God’s gift to him for protection and his coat for his own warmth, not that of hunters. I also came to understand that his crankiness was really just an endless striving to be what he was supposed to be in life….free. However, he was not. So, his eternal purposeful prancing and prowling was meant for the wild and not to scare or impress us. He taught us all that he was never to be tamed or thought of as cuddly because that was not his role. He was a predator trapped in a preyless environment, however much good Samaritans we were to provide for him…it was not his true home. So, I think of him fondly now and miss him, but I think of him most importantly at his passing as…..free. I hope the same for his fellow Ocelots”……Christy, Senior Volunteer Partner

“Oakey was the first cat I fell in love with as a red shirt.  He had a great personality and was always ready to help clean his lockout with you.  He had a sweet face and was a typical con artist Ocelot.  He lived life to the fullest.  We can all learn from that”…. Kathryn, Senior Volunteer Keeper

Wild animals kept in cruel conditions says county

Posted: Jan 26, 2010 7:35 PMUpdated: Jan 27, 2010 3:08 PM

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By Courtney Lane – bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve – bio | email

MARION COUNTY, TX (KLTV) – An East Texas woman says she used to work in the circus but has now been caught with a dozen wild animals, authorities say, she failed to register and are living in cramped, cruel conditions.

The menagerie was discovered along Lewis Chapel Road on the north end of Marion County. Now, Marion County officials are trying to save the animals before it is too late.

Big cats, like tigers and cougars, were confined to travel-sized cages.

“This [is the] 10-acre mud pit she calls an exhibition arena,” said William Gleason, the Marion County District Attorney.

Picture show a miniature horse stuffed into a dog carrier.

“I’m going to say he was probably transported that way,” said Caroline Wedding, with the Marion County Humane Society.

Gleason says Barbara Hoffman faces a slew of charges.

“The cats have been enclosed in these small travel cages for over a month out there when the temperatures were below freezing for a solid week,” said Gleason. “The lion, she had died, evidently, within the last week or so and was hastily buried about the time we went out there.”

D.A. William Gleason says Hoffman failed to register the wild animals and did not provide veterinarian records or have insurance.

“They have to be insured 100,000 per cat per occurrence, so baseline, we’re talking over a million dollars in insurance and she hasn’t showed us any of that,” said Gleason.

Hoffman did not want her face shown but told authorities she used to work in the circus business and is a trainer.

“All I’ve done is fight for these animals ever since my husband passed away,” she said.

And, it’s not just big cats. Hoffman has horses, birds, boa constrictors, a monkey, cats and dogs – you name it and she is keeping it. The Marion County Humane Society says they need to be rescued.

“The food was contaminated…even though some may not have been ill at this moment, if this continues, they will be,” said Wedding.

So, now it’s a race of time, not only to try and seize the animals, but find rescue groups who can care for them.

Marion County officials say Hoffman came from Edinburg, Texas, and before that Florida.

County authorities have sent in a veterinarian to evaluate and are waiting on that report to come back. We will of course keep you updated on what happens to the animals.


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