This photo has the strangest history of any of our photographs. It was over two years before we realized we even had it. It all started when we were driving Laguna Atascosa NWR in Texas and were invited to witness the release of one of their ocelots which had been trapped for a routine health check. Although we had often checked their traps over the past couple of weeks while we were photographing in the backcountry we had not seen any captured animals. (Incidentally, those traps were each fitted with a chicken which had been TRAINED not to panic if approached by an ocelot!) At the arranged time, we met up with a small group headed by Linda Laack, the biologist in charge, and proceeded to the release site. Linda requested we stand on either side of a trail formerly used by the cat in the hope it would proceed directly into the photo setup of the refuge’s staff photographer, Tim Cooper. Well, so much for that plan! IN THE SAME INSTANT THAT THE TRAP DOOR WAS RAISED, THE OCELOT FLASHED PAST ALL OF US IN A BLINDING BLUR. Virginia pushed the shutter button by reflex alone while Robert could only point his camera in the general direction of the fleeing ocelot! Although we did see the flash go off, that was ALL we saw! The assistant for Tim Cooper yelled “There it goes!” causing Tim to pick up his camera just as the ocelot sprang over the very bush Tim was focused on. Disappointed, Tim returned to the release site exclaiming in frustration that it might have been better to sing out “Here it comes, Tim” rather than “There it goes!” It seemed that no photos were taken that day.
Two years later, we were once again doing some photographic work at Laguna Atascosa NWR when we decided to send a batch of film in for processing. A roll of 100/1000 ISO film pushed to 800, which had been pulled from Robert's camera, had been floating around our motor coach for two years but because we so very rarely use that type pf film, it never got used up. What the heck! We sent it in for processing. That batch of film came back from the processor with a major surprise. We had nailed the ocelot “dead on” from the tip of its tail to the point of its nose with all four paws off the ground! We gave Linda Laack a copy of the photograph in appreciation of our once-in-a-lifetime experience. We later received a request from Linda to allow usage of the photo in both the Smithsonian publication and on the web page for the Defenders of Wildlife.com