February 28, 2020
Sharon Wilcox

This year, Defenders of Wildlife is thrilled to be joining partners U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge at the Ocelot Conservation Festival, March 2-8, 2020. 

Ocelot conservation festival 2020

Ocelots are unique to Texas, and a potential source of pride for the state, like the grizzly bear in California or the panther in Florida. Events like the Ocelot Conservation Festival offer the opportunity for Texans in the RGV and throughout the state to discover their wild neighbor, and to learn more about how they can help join the effort to save this Texas native.

The Ocelot Conservation Festival celebrates the unique presence of this cat in Texas and calls attention to the challenges they face while trying to survive. Defenders will be hosting public talks in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, which will be the first time the festival has been celebrated outside of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), and also attending events in the RGV itself.

Ocelot caught on camera trap
USFWS

A medium-sized wildcat, ocelots have a distinct black-outlined “chain rosette” spotted coat, a long ringed tail, and slightly rounded ears. Ocelots once ranged in the United States throughout portions of the Southwest and into areas as far east and north as Arkansas and Louisiana.

In the 20th century, loss of habitat, predator eradication efforts, and voracious demand from the fur and pet trades severely impacted the ocelot population throughout its range. Today, the only remaining breeding population of ocelots in the United States is in Texas, where fewer than 60 ocelots remain in two small populations 20 miles apart near the Mexican border. Occasionally, dispersing male ocelots from Mexico also appear in the borderlands of southern Arizona. 

This endangered cat's biggest threat in the United States is the loss of habitat caused by the expansion of agricultural lands, urbanization, and roads. Industrial development, including liquid natural gas facilities along the gulf coast and new wall construction at the Mexican border, creates disturbances and barriers that, if completed, would forever impact ocelot presence in the area and block U.S. cats from breeding with those in Mexico.

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Ocelot
Image Credit
USFWS
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Ocelot crossing sign
Image Credit
Sharon Wilcox/Defenders of Wildlife
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Laguna Atascosa NWR Refuge Sign

Defenders is working on the ground in south Texas to raise awareness of the presence of these cats on the landscape and the best practices for coexisting with them. We are dedicated to ensuring these cats can continue to live alongside these communities by engaging in education and outreach and conservation activities in the Rio Grande Valley and throughout the state. 

Join me at an event near you to learn more about this unique cat and the innovative work underway to protect and conserve the remaining population. As a first-time partner of the Ocelot Conservation Festival, we’re excited to join this one-of-a-kind celebration! 


Defenders is pleased to share our first series of public talks concerning ocelot conservation in Texas, bringing the Ocelot Conservation Festival to Texas cities outside of the Rio Grande Valley. Join Texas Representative Dr. Shari Wilcox, to learn more about this unique Texas wild cat and the innovative work underway to protect and conserve the remaining population. Learn more about recreation opportunities you can enjoy in ocelot habitat at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and discover what you can do to help save Texas' own "leopard".

Dallas: “Ocelot: A Native Texas Wildcat”
Saturday, February 29th
10:30am - 12:00pm
Presented by Defenders of Wildlife at REI Dallas
5929 E NW Hwy
Dallas, TX 75231
RSVP Here!

Austin: “Meet the Ocelot, A Native Texas Wildcat”
Monday, March 2nd
7:00 pm - 8:30pm
Presented by Defenders of Wildlife at REI Austin
601 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
RSVP Here! 


San Antonio: “Meet the Ocelot, A Native Texas Wildcat”
Wednesday, March 4th
6:30 pm - 7:30pm
Presented by Defenders of Wildlife at REI San Antonio
11745 W IH 10 Ste 110
San Antonio, TX 78230
RSVP Here!


Join the Friends of Laguna Atascosa and Defenders of Wildlife for Afternoon with an Ocelot. This event is a unique and truly Texan experience-- enjoy delicious barbecue at the Longhorn Cattle Company, a local, family-owned restaurant and meet Clyde and Laguna from the Texas Zoo!  Meet ocelot experts and learn more about this unique species, the work underway to conserve them in Texas, and what you can do to help.

San Benito: “Afternoon with an Ocelot” 
Saturday, March 7th 
12:00pm - 4:00pm 
Hosted by Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
Co-sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife 
at Longhorn Cattle Company
3055 W Expressway 83 
San Benito, TX 78586 
No RSVP necessary 
Check out the Facebook page here!  


The annual Ocelot 5K/1 Mile Run will take place on Sunday, March 8th at the Ocelot Conservation Festival in Gladys Porter Zoo. Every year 900 runners run through the zoo grounds on race day to help raise awareness and conservation funds for this majestic animal that calls deep South Texas home. Come for the run and stay for the post-race activities at the Ocelot Conservation Festival at the Gladys Porter Zoo grounds.

Brownsville: “Ocelot Run”
Sunday, March 8th 
9:00 am – 11:00 am
Hosted by 2 Run Crew, LLC
To benefit Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
Gladys Porter Zoo 
500 Ringgold Street 
Brownsville, TX 78520 
Participation in this event has sold out--
Community members are invited to come cheer the runners on!


Ocelot Conservation Day returns to Brownsville’s beloved Gladys Porter Zoo for a day filled with family-friendly activities. Join Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge rangers, biologists, and staff as well as representatives from the Friends Of Laguna Atascosa and Defenders of Wildlife for talks with ocelot experts, presentations featuring ambassador ocelots Clyde and Laguna from the Texas Zoo, and hands-on arts, crafts, and activities for the whole family!

Brownsville: “Ocelot Conservation Day” 
Sunday, March 8th 
10:00 am - 4:00 pm 
Hosted by U.S./ Fish and Wildlife Service at Gladys Porter Zoo 
Co-sponsored by Friends of Laguna Atascosa and Defenders of Wildlife 
Gladys Porter Zoo 
500 Ringgold Street 
Brownsville, TX 78520 
No RSVP necessary, entry free with zoo admission 
Check out the Facebook page here! 

Author(s)

Sharon Wilcox headshot

Sharon Wilcox

Texas Representative
As Representative for Texas, Sharon Wilcox focuses on wildlife habitat connectivity and restoration; private landowner outreach; ocelot conservation; imperiled species including bats, bears, reptiles and amphibians; and renewable energy impacts and siting.
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