OKC Zoo Saddened to Announce Passing of Geriatric Ocelot

The Oklahoma City Zoo is saddened to announce that male ocelot, Pitu, 17, was humanely euthanized Thursday, March 18, 2021, at the Oklahoma City Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital. Pitu was in the final stages of renal (kidney) failure, a common disease in both domestic and wild felids. At 17 years old, Pitu was considered a geriatric animal. He lived beyond the median life expectancy for ocelots, which is 15.7 years according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a testament to the incredible care he received from the OKC Zoo’s veterinary and animal care teams throughout his life.

The Zoo’s veterinary team conducted a necropsy (animal autopsy) after Pitu was euthanized and determined he was in end-stage renal failure which is irreversible. Like all of the Zoo’s animals, Pitu received routine wellness exams, and during his last exam, the veterinary care team assessed he needed care for kidney disease and started supportive treatment. When Pitu declined to the point where medications were no longer keeping him comfortable, the Zoo’s veterinary and animal care teams made the difficult but necessary decision to humanely euthanize him.

Pitu was a guest favorite at the Cat Forest habitat where he lived since arriving at the OKC Zoo in 2006. While residing at the Zoo, he sired five offspring and has several “great, grand-kittens” throughout the North American ocelot population.

Ocelots are medium-sized cats found in the forests and scrublands of Central and South America, as well as the southwestern United States and Mexico. Although currently listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, ocelot populations are decreasing because of habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. Ocelots are known for their beautiful coats that are marked with a variety of patterns. These solitary cats hunt mainly at night, relying on their keen sight and hearing to hunt their prey.

Photo credit: Mandi Townzen

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