The 2021 Virtual Ocelot Festival will be held this weekend, Friday, March 5, through Sunday, March 7. The event will feature an auction, a series of speakers, a month-long virtual run event and more. The festival is brought to you by Viva the Ocelot, Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
Ocelots are a small, wild cat that once roamed in the United States from South Texas up into Arkansas and Louisiana. Today, the ocelot is only found in deep South Texas. The Laguna Atascosa Refuge is home to one of the two remaining breeding populations of ocelots. More information on the ocelot can be found on their website at https://www.texasocelots.com/ocelots.
The mission of the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is to educate the public regarding flora, fauna, and the natural environment of the Refuge. They do this through functions and educational events, promoting public support for the Refuge by encouraging and organizing volunteer services, and soliciting public donations for use in supporting, assisting, and enhancing ongoing conservation projects on the Refuge.
The group has organized and hosted the annual Ocelot Conservation Festival since 1997. In the past, they have hosted the Afternoon with an Ocelot, an ocelot Soiree, and other fundraising events.
Fundraisers have helped with the purchasing of live traps, trail cameras, and radio and GPS tracking collars for ocelot research. They have also been able to support Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, sponsor the Save Texas Ocelots.org specialty plate – which they receive $22 from the sale of renewal of each plate, 100% of which goes to ocelot conservation – and so much more at the visitor’s center and facilities at the Refuge.
One of the events being held that you can participate in right now is the Ocelot Fun Run. It is being held throughout the month of March. Registration is $25. Participants are invited to run, walk, hike, wheel, or prowl a 5k or one mile on any day in March from wherever you are. Upload your time on the website and print your certificate. They also have a tag to add to photos you share on social media. Festival swag is also available.
Seminars will be posted starting March 5, but to find out any other information, purchase festival memorabilia, or to register for the fun run, visit https://www.texasocelots.com/.
The Refuge is open daily, sunrise to sunset. Entry fees are currently waived. The Refuge walking and biking trail are open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset as well. The Visitor Center is currently closed. Call (956) 244-2019 for more information.