After my encounter with the cougar, I was a little nervous about meeting the Ocelot. However, since the ocelot is a smaller exotic cat, I though, what could go wrong? I figured the owner could keep him under control and we could get some great photos.
The owner brought the ocelot out on the grass on a chain leash. Satan the ocelot began purring and we began to take photos. This time, I decided not to pet the ocelot, having learned my lesson from my cougar encounter.
We were getting some great photos. I was sitting next to the ocelot and enjoying seeing him so close. Jim decided to change lenses on his camera. He set his leather camera bag down on the grass next to the ocelot. Satan the ocelot was very excited by the leather camera bag. First the ocelot pulled the bag towards him by sinking his claws into the leather. Then, he began to chew on the bag strap. I figured I could slowly pull the bag away from the ocelot and the cat would get interested in something else.
He did get interested in something else. Satan grabbed my hand in his mouth and held on to me, just barely sinking his teeth into my hand. Once again, I held very still while the big cat owner made Satan open his mouth and release my hand, which now had ocelot tooth marks on it. The owner again apologized saying that Satan was also lonely and did not want us to leave.
We did get some really good photos of Satan the ocelot which have inspired me to create many ocelot paintings. But I have learned my lesson and now do not hug big cats, even tame ones. I have had other close encounters with big cats, which have taught me to be more cautious when petting these semi-wild animals.
More pictures at http://www.jacquievauxart.com
Exotic Big Cat Owners
As a wildlife artist, I constantly need new original material, in the form of photos. One of my sources has been owners of tigers, cougars, leopard, lions, ocelots, bobcats and even cheetahs. Some of these exotic big cat owners also have monkeys and parrots as well.
My husband and I have visited these big cat owners, and with their permission, have had many photo sessions with these big and little exotic cats. These photo sessions have been nearly as adventurous as our trip to the African continent.
One of our first visits to a pet owner of a big cat was in Northern California where a young man was keeping a full grown cougar and a full grown ocelot. The cougar was named Tommy and the ocelot was aptly named Satan.
After calling in advance and getting directions to the remote location, we arrived at the home of this big cat owner. He told us that his cats required at least six to eight hours of contact daily to remain tame and docile. He said that he and his wife had recently had a new baby. This resulted in his cougar, Tommy and his ocelot, Satan not getting the required attention that they would usually get.
When we visited the cougar enclosure, we were greeted by an enthusiastic 200 lb male cougar. He was overjoyed to see us and began rubbing up against his chain link fence and making happy sounds. I was eager to meet Tommy the cougar and Jim was ready with the camera to take some up close and personal photos of this big cat.
The owner opened the enclosure and put Tommy the cougar on a chain leash. I immediately approached the cougar as the owner led him into the yard. The cougar seem happy to meet me. I asked the owner if I could touch the cougar, he said sure, the big cat was used to that.
So, I gently put my arm on the big cat’s neck. When I started to take my arm away, Tommy, the cougar decided that he liked my arm. He turned and grabbed my arm in his mouth, holding me securely. Even though my heart was racing, I held very still until the cougar’s owner made him open his mouth and let me loose. The big cat owner apologized and said that the cougar was lonely and needed more attention.
I quickly realized that the feeble chain that the big cat owner was holding the cougar with, would not hold Tommy if he wanted to get away. We did not take many more photos of Tommy the cougar as he was soon back in his enclosure, pining away for attention. I suffered only minor bruising and a torn blouse.