Young tigrillo

Tigrilla, what kind of name is that?

It is nice that most people like my name, even if they have no idea what it is. It is different, exotic–it rolls off the tongue… Tigrilla.

I am always curious to hear it pronounced with different accents: Southern American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, English…  I usually hear it with an Italian accent–since that is where I live most of the time–even though the correct accent is Spanish, with the “ya” sound for the double L.

But what is a Tigrilla? Or to be exact, a tigrillo?

May I present to you, tigrillo

Leopardus Tigrinus, scientifically speaking

Aren’t I adorable?

Tigrillo, or oncilla, as it is sometimes called in English, is a small South American feline. Other names include “northern tiger cat” and “little spotted cat”, but I think that is just because I am small. I measure about 40cm and live in the trees in areas ranging from Central America to central Brazil. My next size up cousin in the margay, followed by the ocelot. Here you can see a chart of all three of us together.

If you see me, be careful, I am endangered

I am considered a “vulnerable” species on the IUCN Red List because the population is threatened by deforestation and conversion of habitat to agriculture. Knowing that there are so few of me fuels my research into plant intelligence and plant communication. We need to cure humanity of plant blindness and learn to co-create with other species instead of destroy them. If my kind keeps losing land and trees, we will disappear completely. And I have no desire to become extinct.

Here I am chilling in my favorite environment, up in the trees:

Why I have an animal name?

Where I live, in Damanhur Spiritual EcoCommunity, our first names are animals or nature spirits and our second names are plants or fungi. Hence my name: Tigrilla (South American feline) and Gardenia (beautiful plant with perfumed white flowers).

What is the origin of your name?

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