When explorer Coyote Peterson was on a trek through the jungle with his film crew he never expected to encounter this…
He was stalked and pounced upon by something totally unexpected. What happened next was caught on camera and it changed this man’s life forever…
The Importance of Animals
Coyote Peterson of Newbury, Ohio has felt the importance of animals in his life from a very early age. The now 34-year-old has a passion that has led him to become the host of a series of digital animal education shows for Wilderness Productions. It was during these shows that things often seem to go awry.
Up Close and Personal
Peterson is no stranger to being bitten or stung by the wildlife that he’s filming, and has got up close and personal with some of the worlds most dangerous creatures. “I believe the best way to share animals with the world is right from their natural environment,” he said on the Coyote Peterson website.
Unpredictable Animal Kingdom
The animal world is an amazing place, filled with a huge range of surprises that are totally unpredictable. While filming in Mother Nature’s untamed domains, looking for amphibians and reptiles, this explorer got sprung on by a predator in what turned out to be the encounter of a lifetime.
Despite his vast experience of the natural world, he could never have predicted what would happen when he was filming a Brave Wilderness show in the Osa Peninsula. The Osa Peninsula is home to at least half the wildlife in Costa Rica. Peterson was doing some nighttime “herping,” looking for reptiles and amphibians, when luck intervened.
On his YouTube channel, Peterson said, “I was walking down the trail… I literally stop and I’m shining my light on this giant wolf spider, the biggest wolf spider I’ve ever seen.” These predators are mildly venomous and deadly hunters in their own world, yet, the jungle had another surprise in store…
The explorer ended up getting more than he bargained for when suddenly he heard movement and something whizzed by his feet. Peterson caught a glimpse of what had been hunting him and wanted a closer look and it was a much rarer sight than a wolf spider.
Luring The Predator
Peterson realized that whatever was stalking him, seemed to really like his herping equipment. He tried rattling it against a log in order to draw the predator closer. The noise turned out to be effective predator bait because in a matter of seconds, he had a visitor.
A Wild Cat
It turned out to be an extremely rare feline called an ocelot, also known as a dwarf leopard. “This is a wild cat, however, she is used to humans,” excited Peterson said. “She hangs out on this trail – we were told if you walk this trail at night, there’s a good chance you’ll come across it.”
Ocelots are generally nocturnal creatures, and so was no surprise that Peterson’s inquisitive new friend was very active. They belong to the small spotted cat genus Leopardus. The ocelot, Leopardus pardalis, is the biggest of these small cats.
A Stroke Of Luck
Peterson couldn’t quite believe his luck as the ocelot climbed all over him and started to play with his travel pack. “This cat blends so perfectly into its environment,” he said. “All this cryptic patterning allows them to stay hidden in the shadows as they’re moving through all this foliage.”
Ocelots can be found all over South America and they’ve even been spotted in parts of North America, such as Arizona. They use their urine to mark their territory and are wildly protective of their living space. They have been known to fight other ocelots to its death.
Although they usually tend to hunt mammals, such as opossums and rabbits, snakes and amphibians, this little chap liked the idea of honing its talents with its new human playmate. As soon as Peterson took his travel pack off, the feisty feline leapt right up onto his back to wrestle.
Having A Bit Of Fun
For the lucky explorer, the chaotic cat was just a kitten or its jostling would have been far more rough. “These cats are lethal once fully grown, and they can take down pretty much anything that’s out here in the Costa Rican rainforest,” Peterson explained, with a handful of wild cat.
A Bite To The Jugular
“All they have to do is run, leap, sink in those front claws and then a bite to the jugular and she’s got a meal,” he said. “This is a kitten… she’s only about half grown right now.” After looking at the way she moved and tussled with Peterson, imagine how dangerous a frenzied adult ocelot might behave.
“Don’t Try This At Home!”
“Yeah, she’s got hold of me now,” Peterson winced, as the ocelot wrapped herself around his neck. “See, that’s what she would want; she’s going for the jugular. Needless to say, grappling with a wild ocelot is not something you should try at home”.
Nasty Little Punctures
“I would never recommend you go out in the wild and ever try to get this close to an ocelot because if it didn’t want to play, it could really do some serious damage,” he said. Peterson had a really unique encounter with this wild cat, and even though she was taking it pretty easy on him, he still got some nasty little punctures from her claws and teeth.
A Cool Rainforest Creature
“If I was one of her littermates, this is exactly how she would be playing,” the explorer said. “I’m getting slight little itty-bitty punctures here and there, but nothing that I can’t take. Not to be this close to such a cool rainforest creature.”
An Increase In Numbers
The ocelot were considered a fairly vulnerable species between 1972 and 1996. They were hunted for their beautiful fur, which could fetch quite a high price on the market. Thankfully their numbers have since increased, and are now rated “least concern” on the Red Data list of threatened species, telling us that they are no longer considered threatened.
Although they are wild cats, ocelots can be kept as pets if they have the right license, this though, is a fairly rare occurrence. Artist Salvador Dali, for instance, had a pet ocelot Babou and would take him with when he traveled, and also musician Gram Parsons owned one for a time in his young adulthood.
A Career Highlight
Peterson spent close to three hours with this playful wild kitty, and considers it to be one of his career highlights. “This is probably the most unique thing I have ever done with an animal,” he told the crew that were filming. Let’s hope this ocelot continues to give explorers the encounter of their lifetime.