“I went to South Africa on safari and came eye to eye with a beautiful leopard. We were so close; I was staring at him for a long time and I felt [a sense of] recognition with my own nature.” This is the non-verbatim statement of a famous Chinese actress named Bai Ling, who is just one of the many people who can get past the ferocious exterior of a big cat and marvel at its inner splendor.
Cat lovers who fantasize about adding tigers and leopards in their household would either simply live with the mild frustration or find a pet that serves as a ‘realistically accessible’ alternative. Hence, unconventional cat lovers would end up owning ocelots – an exotic medium-sized wild cat endemic in South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Their uncanny resemblance with their leopard cousins earned them the nickname “dwarf leopards.”
Adopting an ocelot as a member of the family may be a romantic idea. However, the actual price of ocelot is something that often helps prospective individuals to appreciate the seriousness of raising a wild cat at home. The lowest average ocelot cost on record is $1,500 while the highest quoted price offered to a breeder is over $15,000.
It is always important to take note that the dwarf leopard is classified as ‘Least Concern’ species. Although it has managed to overcome its volatile conservation status from 1972 to 1995, special considerations are still observed which makes it less convenient for prospective owners to acquire them as one would of any generic pet.
Other Acquisition Costs
Speaking of its current conservation status, owning a gorgeous dwarf leopard takes more than just a few thousand bucks meeting the average ocelot cost. Apart from the projected market price of ocelot, owners must also take note of other expenses needed to secure the legal papers for acquiring these types of exotic wild animals.
Among the list of documents a pet owner needs to secure are state and federal permits. This can entail as much as $300 per renewal. Apart from permits, the prospective ocelot parent must also acquire the exotic animal liability insurance.
Considering how interest groups (e.g. wildlife activists) and competing parties (e.g. alleged original owner) often challenge the possession of wild creatures by legitimate pet owners, it is always important to be protected from any lawsuit of this nature. The entire set of legal documents may entail a broad estimate ranging between $1,000 and $15,000 – depending on the assessment of a legal counsel.
Overall Pet Maintenance Cost
Provided the market price of ocelot and the cost of the license to buy them, the next concern a prospective pet owner must attend to would be the overall investment necessary to keep them. It is important to take note that when it comes to owning an exotic wild animal, the level of commitment necessary is quite higher than that required of generic domestic pets. Hence, it goes without saying that the financial burdens of being an ocelot custodian can be exponentially higher.
Ocelots have a longer lifespan in captivity than in the wild. This means that, with proper stewardship, the dwarf leopard can stay with their owners for over two decades. Given that extensive timeframe, it is, therefore, important for homeowners to assess their expenses on an annual basis.
The expenses for food and general care could climb up to $1000 per year. Since ocelots are wild animals, veterinarians strictly prohibit pet owners from feeding them ordinary cat food. Their nourishment requires relatively organic substance such as meat and offal. Luckily, they can scrounge for vermin to supplement their regular meals (like all cats often do).
Every potential ocelot parents must be prepared to face the fact that food is just the least of their financial concerns. Since the dwarf leopard is categorized as a wild creature, their hunting instincts are far from tempered despite their state of domestication. Their penchant for hunting and feasting on vermin increases their risk for digestive disorders brought by parasite infestation.
Due to their relative exposure to a list of health risks, they require monthly immunization and de-worming. For immunization, the most viable setup is for the vets to visit the pet owner’s property in order to administer the vaccine. This may cost around $200 to $250 per month or roughly an annual investment of $3,000. For their inoculation against skin-borne parasites, ocelot parents must provide the same exact cost per year. Monthly de-worming costs around $780 yearly.
The AZA Accreditation
The comprehensive ocelot cost in terms of acquisition and maintenance already costs a fortune. Nonetheless, it does not stop bedazzled humans from keeping exotic animals closer into their lives (literally). However, the ownership of a majestic animal such as an ocelot takes a little more than just deep pockets and deeper compassion. A fundamental aspect that most passionate pet owners would often tend to overlook is the ethical sphere of owning exotic creatures.
Perhaps the most important factor one needs to take note in terms of becoming an ocelot parent is acquiring the basic accreditation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. This authorization is responsible for the very existence of all recreations and establishments that take wild and endangered animals into their custody.
Earning the AZA accreditation is not easy. In essence, the pet owner’s property must eventually be on par with the operational standards of some miniature parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Putting up a very high barb-wired steel mesh fencing around an 800 square foot enclosure would be a good start for passing a series of inspections by the AZA. Applicants for the AZA accreditation require a non-refundable filling fee worth $2,000. In addition to this, homeowners must also pay a visiting committee deposit worth $1,500.