BROWNSVILLE — Eight hundred eager runners lined up outside the Gladys Porter Zoo on a cloudy Saturday morning to kick off Ocelot Conservation Day.
Dressed as flowers, insects or the ocelot itself, they competed in the Ocelot Run, a family-friendly untimed race to raise awareness for a cause that sometimes goes unnoticed.
“It was through running ourselves and being out there at Laguna Atascosa that we learned about the ocelot, so this is something we love to do,” said Javier Vasquez, co-founder of 2RunCrew and organizer of the run.
“The run is a great way of marrying something that we do to bring awareness to a good cause.”
This is the third year the group has organized the run to start the event. It is put on by the Friends of Laguna Atascosa.
Chuck Doran participated in the 5K. He wore an ocelot costume for the occasion.
“They told me, ‘Do whatever you can to support it,’” Doran said. “Anything to help support our community.”
Kathleen Hollon drove from Harlingen to participate in the Ocelot Run, her first Brownsville run.
“It’s a fun run. It’s a good way to have a good time for a good cause,” Hollon said.
Hollon expects to do more Brownsville runs in the future.
Information tables could be found inside the zoo for more details on ocelots. For the children, craft activities went on throughout the day. There also was a special presentation featuring an ocelot from the Cincinnati Zoo.
“It went very well. We were expecting the weather to play a factor, but everyone had a good time. It was a good turnout,” Vasquez said.