I've finished my training for docents at the Virginia Zoo, so I was notified by email today that Xanica, the lovely ocelot that graced the nocturnal house, was euthanized. She was 22 years old. She had cancer and her quality of life had diminished to the point that the difficult decision was made to end her suffering. She was a favorite with visitors, including me.
With ocelots on my mind, I went searching for some old photos.
|Freckles and me, circa 1980|
|I wanted Freckles' beautiful face in the photo.|
After a few months a school complained that they felt it wasn't safe to have the ocelot near young kids. Which of course it wasn't! That was the end of the ocelot visiting program. I was sad. I got the feeling Freckles enjoyed her excursions. (The director substituted goat visits. It just wasn't the same, and the goat wasn't nearly as well-behaved as Freckles).
A lot has changed since 1980, at schools and in wildlife care! If I was an ocelot's zookeeper nowadays I'd have all sorts of procedures to prevent contact for the safety of both the ocelot and me. I had a rare opportunity, and I'm grateful.