Ocelots take center stage at fundraiser

SAN BENITO — The sleek cat with the golden pelt and black spots shifted around in the cardboard box as spectators watched through its metal cage.

The ocelot, on loan from a zoo in Victoria, Texas, invited by its very presence the curious and the conscientious to learn more about its precarious situation and do something about it.

Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge held “Afternoon with an Ocelot” Saturday at Longhorn Cattle Company to raise funds and awareness about the ocelot.

“We’re educating children and adults about wildlife conservation and in particular about the ocelot,” said Joyce Hamilton, secretary of the board of Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

Visitors to the event had the opportunity to “adopt” ocelots by providing money used in ocelot protection. The event, the first of which was held last year, is important for many reasons, Hamilton said.

“We think it’s important so that people will understand that Texas ocelots are critically endangered,” Hamilton.

Ocelots once abounded in South Texas environments but its numbers have dwindled because of habitat loss due to agriculture.