photograph of ocelot

Laguna Atascosa NWR

home to

an incredibly diverse habitat with over


417 birds

130 butterflies

45 mammals

44 reptiles

450 plants

Visitor's Center Is Open!

The Visitor's Center at Laguna Atascosa NWR closed in March, 2020, about a week after a very successful Ocelot Festival at Gladys Porter Zoo. While the Friends did create an online store to help supplement our Nature Store sales and have held some events off the refuge, it just hasn't been the same. We have really missed our friends, neighbors, volunteers, and Winter Texans!


Please note that hours posted below are limited due to staffing and will be updated when additional staff is hired and/or volunteers are available.


Visitor's Center is open on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, from 7 AM until 2PM. The ranger will be on duty during those hours.


The Friends Nature Store is open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, from 8:30 AM until 2 PM. We have snacks, ice cream, water, and soft drinks for purchase in addition to our usual t-shirts, pins, guides, caps and other items in our remodeled store. The store may also be open on some Saturdays, depending upon availability of volunteers.


Friends is looking for one or two volunteers who can consistently dedicate one day a week to working in the store. Training is provided (but retail experience and/or volunteering in a similar setting is helpful). If you are interested, please call or text 956-832-3905 or email


Please note that hours are subject to change. For questions, call 956-748-3607. When you hear the automated voice stop, press 112 to reach the store or press 111 to reach the ranger's office. You will be able to leave a message.


We look forward to seeing you soon!


For information and to apply, click HERE!

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Ocelot Conservation Day 2022

Ocelot Conservation Day 2022 was held March 6th at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville TX. Over 3500 visitors showed up at the zoo and it felt like all of them participated in our activities! We were so happy that the weather was perfect.


It was fun day with a variety of activities: make a button or magnet, color an ocelot mask, see live animal presentations by zoo staff, learn about ocelots from Hilary Swarts, visit with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Wardens at the Operation Game Thief trailer, shop for ocelot merchandise, and learn about the Friends of Laguna Atascosa and Laguna Atascosa NWR. Games included Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Ocelot, Bean Bag Toss, How Far Can an Ocelot Jump?, puzzles, and Discovery Boxes. Kids could collect 6 ocelot pawprints and get a special event sticker at the Friends store.

Click here to see a gallery of pictures from the day!

We especially want to express our appreciation to the following groups and sponsors who made this event so successful:


Gladys Porter Zoo and Staff who helped so much with the setup and hosting the event on zoo grounds.


Defenders of Wildlife who provided a generous sponsorship for the event AND provided funding for 263 kids to attend the event for free! Download their free Bordercats Booklet for Kids here.


Laguna Atascosa NWR Staff and Volunteers who brought a lot of information, time and energy to the event (and even some of their relatives and friends).


Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens with their informative trailer.


Texas Master Naturalists from both Rio Grande Valley Chapter and South Texas Border Chapter who provided energy, enthusiasm and great volunteer support.


Friends of Laguna Atascosa Board Members, Volunteers and Families who support the work of Friends and the refuge.

We Love Bahia Grande!

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The Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, in partnership with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club, with support from Defenders of Wildlife and Save RGV, hosted a premiere on May 7 of two of Richard Moore’s documentaries: “Vanishing Lomas” and “Bahia Grande: The Largest Coastal Restoration in Texas”. A total of 52 people attended this event, held at the South Texas Ecotourism Center, which overlooks the Bahia Grande and the lomas within it. Pictured are Friends Board Members Bob Severson, Nicole Ekstrom and Greg Garcia with Richard Moore.


If you missed the event, don’t worry! The Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge will be hosting another Bahia Grande documentary premiere on July 9 at 6 pm at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. To RSVP, click on this link:

We have put together a box set of three of

Richard Moore's documentaries about the Refuge:

"Phantom Cat of the Chaparral", "Laguna Atascosa:

A South Texas Treasure", and "Bahia Grande:

The Largest Coastal Restoration in Texas". Now you can learn about the phantom cat that secretively stalks the remnants of thick, thorny brush in Texas, discover the beauty and wonder of the Refuge, and explore the restoration of a 10,000 acre wetland that required years of planning and hard work by over 65 partners.


Order your box set here for $25.00 (incl. discs, postage, and tax). (Note: The Bahia Grande documentary is only in blu-ray format).

Richard Moore Documentary Box Set


Save Texas Ocelots
License Plate

Texas residents can enjoy displaying the Save Texas Ocelots license plate. $22 of the $30 fee goes directly to the Ocelot Program at Laguna Atascosa!

Get it today...just click on the license plate.

image of Save Texas Ocelots license plate for Texas

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The Nature Store @ Laguna Atascosa is online! 

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge:

A Place Like No Other

Authored by J. David Book, this book chronicles the first 75 years of Laguna Atascosa.  $30 plus applicable tax & shipping.

Add the DVD, Laguna Atascosa: A South Texas Treasure for $5 more!

image of book cover of Laguna Atascosa A Place Like No Other

Bahia Grande: the Largest Coastal

Wetland Restoration in Texas

This new video by Richard Moore explores the vast restoration project that took decades and over 65 partners to come to fruition. From dust bowl to a growing wetlands estuary, Bahia Grande is a remarkable example of how we can undo past decisions and help nature heal.

Note: only available in blu-ray format.


Only $15 each, includes

blu-ray disc, Bahia Grande sticker, tax, and postage!

Visiting the Refuge...

Hunt information: visit refuge site

For information or concerns about the refuge,

please contact:


  • Refuge open daily, sunrise to sunset. 

  • Steve Thompson Wildlife Drive (formerly, Bayside Drive), is now open to hiking and biking only.

  • Buena Vista Road is open. THE SPEED LIMIT IS 25 MPH!

  • Please do not drive or park on the dedicated bicycle lane.

  • Refuge walking and biking trails are open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset.

  • Cell service is inconsistent and on-site staff are limited.

  • Visitor Center is opening May 4, 2022 with limited days and hours. Call 956-244-2019 for information or 956-748-3607 (ext.111 to reach the ranger and ext. 112 to reach the store). Leave a message after the automated answer ends.

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