‘American Ocelot’ will be a 50-minute film that chronicles the sad history, precarious present, and optimistic future for the United States’ most endangered wild cat: the ocelot. Told through the lens of wildlife filmmaker Ben Masters, the viewer will go on a brush dive into the deep South Texas chapparal to meet the biologists studying the rare cats, the ranchers with the habitat, and the cats themselves.
During the film, our primary ocelot character, Mama Jane, gives birth to two beautiful kittens. Through camera trap cinematography, we get a never-before-seen glimpse into the struggle, love, and determination that is required for a mother ocelot to successfully raise her young. And the stakes could not be higher: with fewer than 80 known ocelots remaining in the United States, divided into two small populations, each kitten is absolutely precious to the future of the American ocelot population. It is a future that is threatened by inbreeding depression, habitat fragmentation, and the inability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find working agreements with the Texas ranches that contain ocelot habitat. The Tamaulipan Thornscrub in South Texas is a crucial habitat not only for the ocelots, but also for migrating species that travel through the Texas coastal bend. Trail cameras reveal intimate behaviour and the beauty of the environment.
But there is hope for a bright future! New genetics can be introduced from ocelots in Mexico, new populations can be established in their historic range in Texas, and a potential international conservation success story is poised to launch. There are even talks about a potential new ocelot habitat, but along with it come bureaucratic problems. Will there be a solution, and a new home for a new population of ocelots to live and thrive?
And in the meantime, ocelot Jane teaches her kittens to become the future of ocelots. She shows them the correct ways to hunt, to play hide and seek, to survive against the odds.
‘American Ocelot’ will be a gripping 4K documentary of international importance told through verité events, engaging interviews, character-driven narration by Ben Masters, and intimate footage of a mother ocelot raising her kittens.