NEW ORLEANS – On Friday, the Audubon Zoo’s rare ocelot kitten “Batata,” made his public debut.
To the delight of visitors, Batata was extremely adventurous while exploring his habitat for the first time.
Batata, Portuguese for “potato,” was affectionately named for his chubby, potato-like appearance as a newborn.
Batata was born on May 6, 2020, to parents “Milagre” and “Joaquin.”
Milagre (“miracle’’ in Portuguese) and Joaquin came to Audubon Zoo in 2017 from the Dallas Zoo. The kitten’s birth comes as part of Audubon’s participation in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Brazilian ocelots.
The wild cat species is about twice the size of the average domestic feline and is known for its striking dappled coat.
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.
With regulatory measures now in place, the ocelot has recovered and is no longer considered endangered. Some ocelot populations, however, are small and unstable–particularly in Texas–and numbers are decreasing due to deforestation, habitat destruction, and poaching.