News Archive

Important Note: We have a new website location for college news. The listing below is an older archive, and you can find the latest news at

Ocelot Conservation Day Raises Awareness for Rare Cat

March 02, 2020

You know the name. You’ve seen the logo. You own the gear. Maybe you even cheer for or play on one of the teams.

The Schoolcraft Ocelots.

Across the college landscape, you’ll see plenty of big cats (Cougars, Lions, Tigers, Wildcats), fearsome animals (Bears, Rams), less-fearsome animals (Bulldogs, Cardinals) and birds of prey (Falcons, Hawks). Ocelot, however, is pretty rare for a school mascot. Unfortunately, the actual animal itself is pretty rare these days, too.

Ocelots used to live from southern Texas into Arkansas and Louisiana, but habitat loss, fur trade and vehicle accidents have severely curtailed numbers. Today, it’s estimated there are less than 50 ocelots left in the U.S. – most are found in deep-south Texas. The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Los Fresnos, Texas, cares for about 11 to 14 ocelots at a time.

That’s why the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, has held an annual Ocelot Conservation Day for more than 20 years. This year’s is on March 8 to raise awareness for this rarely seen animal.

In terms of Ocelot as a college mascot, it appears Schoolcraft College is the lone survivor. The former University of Texas at Brownsville was known as the Ocelots for two seasons (2013-14 and 2014-150, but in 2015 that institution was folded into the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. That school is known as the Vaqueros, which are cowboys or cattle herders.

Schoolcraft Ocelot facts

  • Ocelots was chosen as Schoolcraft College’s mascot sometime in the 1960s or 1970s after a student contest
  • The Carleton family generously donated a pair of bronze ocelot statues.
  • The first was unveiled in 2004 and sits in front of the Forum.
  • The second was added in 2008 in front of the Physical Education Building.
  • The newer one is named Owen.

General ocelot facts

  • They are about twice the size of an average house cat
  • Ocelots are also found in Mexico, Central America and South America
  • They are carnivorous and hunt rabbits, rodents and snakes, among other animals. They have been known to stalk monkeys in trees.
  • The famed artist Salvador Dali had a pet ocelot named Babou

Click here to see a video about ocelot conservation efforts.