BOGOTA — Colombian authorities released two ocelots back into the wild on March 25, after they were nurtured for six years in a rehab center designed to resemble their natural habitat, El Espectador reported.
The 8-year old cats were set free in the Monquentiva reserve outside the town of Guatavita northeast of Bogota, as a delegation that included Environment Minister Gabriel Vallejo López looked on. One of the cats was handed over to authorities in 2009 by a family from Tenjo outside Bogota that had bought it as a baby and kept it as a pet. They decided to call environmental authorities when the kitten grew too large and began preying on their chickens.
The other ocelot was handed in by a family that had found it wondering alone after its mother was presumably killed by hunters. The district of Guatavita includes a reserve that's home to large animals, including at least 18 spectacled bears and two pumas. Authorities track their presence and numbers from secure rooms, one of which was shown to the minister. He stressed the role of local residents in protecting wildlife, and urged people to understand the consequences of removing animals from their habitats.
Photo: Colombia Ministry of Environment