Rare Ocelot Kitten Born at Audubon Zoo in Louisiana: 'Mother and Kitten Are Doing Great'

The zoo's veterinarian team expects the newborn ocelot to be ready for his public debut in about 8 weeks

The Audubon Zoo in Louisiana welcomed a new member to their animal family last month!

The New Orleans zoo recently announced the birth of a rare ocelot kitten to parents Milagre and Joaquin on May 6, and confirmed the mother and kitten "are doing great."

"He is eating like a champ," animal care team member Kylie Linke said in a statement. "Milagre has been very accepting of us weighing him and always is ready to carry him back into the den when we're done. He's gone from around 200 grams at birth to now weighing more than 700 grams in just three short weeks! We're already seeing personality and he's just starting to zoom around on his own.”

Milagre — which means “miracle’’ in Portuguese — and Joaquin have been with the Audubon Zoo since they transferred from the Dallas Zoo in 2017.

Rare Ocelot Kitten Born at Audubon Zoo
Audubon Zoo

The new kitten’s birth is part of Audubon’s participation in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Brazilian ocelots. The initiative's goal is to enhance the conservation of this species in the wild and oversee population management.

Ocelots were nearly driven to extinction in the 20th century by hunters looking to profit off of their lustrous fur coat.

However, with regulatory measures, the species — which is native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America — has recovered and is no longer considered endangered.

Rare Ocelot Kitten Born at Audubon Zoo
Courtesy Kylie Linke/Audubon Zoo

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

In addition to the new birth, the zoo is also celebrating its reopening after a three-month lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"What joyous news to share as the Zoo reopens its doors to the public. A birth like this serves as an important reminder of the spirit of hope and renewal inherent in all life," the Audubon Nature Institute board and Zemurray Foundation board member Ludovico Feoli said in a statement. "Like his parents, this kitten will serve as an important ambassador for the animals of Central and South America to the people of New Orleans."

Rare Ocelot Kitten Born at Audubon Zoo
Audubon Zoo

"My family and I are delighted that our support of the Jaguar Jungle could help bring this new life into the world to inspire thousands of Zoo visitors to make a positive impact on wildlife across the globe," he added.

The Audubon Zoo officially reopened to the public on Wednesday, June 3. However, visitors won't see the baby ocelot just yet.

The zoo's veterinarian team expects the newborn to be ready for his public debut in about 8 weeks.

Related Articles