NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Audubon Zoo has welcomed two new additions: a pair of Brazilian ocelots.
The wild cat species is about twice the size of the average domestic feline, and is known for its dappled coat.
Milagre, which means "miracle'' in Portuguese, is a female ocelot, and Joaquin, a male, came to Audubon on October 6 from the Dallas Zoo.
The ocelots are both nine years old and are a proven breeding pair.
Audubon's animal staff is hopeful that once they are comfortable in their new home, kittens could be on the way.
"Brazilian ocelots are a new species for Audubon and we are thrilled to be working with them,'' said Dominique Fleitas, assistant curator of Audubon Zoo's Louisiana Swamp & Jaguar Jungle. "Joaquin is the more outgoing of the two and loves anything he can bat around. Milagre is a bit more reserved and is intrigued by new smells.''
Native to the southwestern United States, Mexico and Central and South America, the ocelot was nearly driven to extinction in the 20th Century by hunters who saw great profit in its lustrous fur coat, according to Audubon officials.
With regulatory measures now in place, the ocelot has recovered and is no longer considered endangered.
Audubon Zoo visitors can see Milagre and Joaquin in their new Jaguar Jungle home located on the hill directly across from the spider monkey habitat.