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Unexpected Sighting
 10 x 12

Photo reference courtesy of James Adams

One of the lesser known exotic felids, the Margay, (Leopardus wiedii) is no less deserving of immediate protection. This small cat, native to Central and South America, faces an enormous threat to its survival due to habitat loss and the fur trade.

 The Margay, or “tree ocelot” as it is sometimes called, possesses several features unique among felids. This incredibly agile animal may spend its entire life living in the trees. It is one of only two species of wild cats that has the ability to climb down trees head first due to some exceptionally flexible ankle bones. Able to jump up to 12 feet horizontally between trees, it is a formidable predator to primates, birds, squirrels and other small arboreal animals. It has also been shown to be able to mimic the vocalization of young pied tamarins as a hunting tactic – a remarkable ability many scientists rank up there with tool use among primates. 

Unlike other cats, the Margay has only two mammary glands. Reproducing only once every two years and with a 50% mortality rate of its young, efforts to save this species will be incredibly difficult – especially as they do not breed well in captivity.

Nocturnal and incredibly secretive, this elusive animal can only be found in very remote rainforests. Recently a facebook friend working in Honduras caught a rare glimpse of a Margay in the trees during the day and was able to get a remarkable photo which he generously allowed me to borrow for reference. The cat in this artwork has a predatory gaze, as if it too, caught an unexpected sighting of something in the trees.

5% of the sale of this piece was donated to www.panthera.org at Mr. Adams request.

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