Saturday, August 8, 2015

Living With an Ocelot. In a Manhattan Apartment (12 Pics)

I don't think I could live without a margay

Photographer Al Fenn Visited the Manhattan apartment home of Si and Meg Merrill.  Fenn was on assignment for LIFE magazine to do a photo essay on living with an ocelot. More correctly a tree ocelot, also known as a margay, a smaller, lighter, tree-dwelling cousin of the true ocelot.
The Merrills had bought "Montezuma" - or Monte - a little over a year before as a kitten. Exotic pets, like leopards, chimpanzees, other monkey species and kangaroos, were very popular in the 1960s.
Monte's diet consisted of beef or turkey heart with the addition of a little watercress. Margays eat grass and other vegetation in the wild. They also hunt and eat small mammals and birds. 
Monte was a delicate animal and the vet bills were high. Because of his inquisitiveness, he required almost constant supervision. But according to Mrs. Merrill, "life would be far less fun if Monte weren't here.... In fact I don't think I could live without a margay."
The margay's natural habitat is the dense forests of Central and South America. They are agile tree climbers and can grasp branches equally efficiently with both front and hind paws. They can also jump up to 12 feet (3.7 m) horizontally.
The margay has been listed as "Near Threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2008 because remaining populations are thought to be declining due to loss of habitat from deforestation.

Owning one has been a dreadful mistake.
They're untamable, untrainable and completely self-centered.
By 1971, the tide was turning against owning exotic pets and LIFE Magazine visited Mrs. Merrill again. She told the reporter that "for all the lack of freedom you have by owning them, and for all the lack of freedom they have by being owned by you, you might as well make them into fur coats."
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