Kitten "Kountdown" Starts at Desert Museum

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is supporting the American Species Survival Plan (SSP) program, coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, by breeding the Museum's resident male ocelot to a female partner brought in specifically to facilitate the breeding. The Desert Museum and guests are getting ready to count down the days as kitten(s) would be born between Nov. 4 - Dec. 26, 2015.

Everyone loves baby animals.  So the possibility of the birth of an ocelot kitten(s) has Museum staff keeping their fingers crossed.  As part of the American Species Survival Plan (SSP) program, coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Museum’s resident male ocelot was introduced to a female partner in early August.

Since then the two ocelots have been getting to know one another behind the scenes at the Museum with keepers and curators maintaining a close watch for breeding behaviors by the pair. 

“Since ocelots are nocturnal and secretive, the only way to monitor breeding activity was through camera traps,” states Shawnee Riplog-Peterson, Curator of Mammalogy and Ornithology.   “The first images that indicated the pair was likely compatible were captured on August 14th.”  Typically there is a courting period for ocelots as females’ reproduction cycles are triggered by the presence of a male. 

The pair continued to share living quarters until October 2, when the female was placed in the Cat Canyon exhibit habitat.  Should the breeding be successful, visitors will be able to see the kitten(s) as soon as their mother is ready to introduce them to an adoring public. 

“Now the watch and countdown begin,” added Riplog-Peterson.  “If all goes according to plan, an ocelot kitten(s) may be expected in 79 to 85 days.  Only time will tell if the breeding effort was successful.”  The earliest date for the much-anticipated litter of kittens would be November 4rd but the births could occur anytime between November 4rd and December 26th – just in time for the holidays.

If the breeding is successful, this would be the first litter born at the Museum since the 1993. Sixteen ocelots have been born at the Desert Museum.

Ocelots were declared an endangered species in 1982.  The AZA’s SSP program endeavors to breed captive animals with a purpose of generating the broadest genetic diversity possible and to minimize the need to take any new animals from the wild.  The female ocelot in this program is on loan from the Buffalo Zoo.  The Desert Museum’s Bighorn Sheep are also part of the SSP program with successful lamb births occurring in each of the past two years.

Visitors are encouraged to come out to see the female ocelot on exhibit.  If and when her kitten arrives, it may be on view to the public immediately or whenever its mother feels the time is right. 




The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, solely interpreting the Sonoran Desert region of the United States and Mexico, is primarily an outdoor experience encompassing a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum and aquarium. Set on 98 acres, the Museum is home to 230 animal species, 56,000 individual plant specimens, two miles of walking paths and one of the world’s most comprehensive regional mineral collections. The Desert Museum is actively involved in education, conservation, and research programs to help preserve the Sonoran Desert region. It is open daily year-round and is located 14 miles west of Tucson, adjacent to Saguaro National Park (West). 


Categories: Travel, Social Media, Vacations and Travel, Personal Travel

Tags: AZA, breeding, conservation, Desert Museum, endangered, ocelot, SSP, zoo

About Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

View Website or Media Room

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a fusion experience: zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium.

Betsy D. Warner
Director of Marketing & Sales, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
2021 N Kinney Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85743-8918
United States