On June 25, 2011, three Fossa pups were born to the Houston Zoo's female, Riana. Although Riana was only with her own mom for a few days before keeper’s had to intervene due to maternal aggression, she has proven to be an excellent and laid back mother. Houston Zoo carnivore keepers set up cameras in Riana’s nest box and because they were already raising an orangutan infant, the monitor was set up in the primate area. The overnight caregivers pulled double duty, monitoring Riana and her pups remotely while caring for baby Aurora, their hand-raised orangutan.
The litter turned out to be three girls, named Ingrid, Heidi and Gretchen in honor of their father, Hansel. True to their agile fossa nature, the girls are extremely active, tumbling around their enclosure while using their long tails for balance. One of their favorite activities is trying to run all together on their giant “hamster wheel”, built by Keeper Josh Young. Usually one of them wants to run the opposite direction from her sisters, which makes for some really great entertainment for our keeper staff!
More pics and info below the fold!
All this cuteness belies the true predatory nature of this endangered species. Fossa are found only on the island of Madagascar and their favorite food is lemurs. Fossa weigh less than 30 pounds (13.6kg), but they are tough predators and will also take down prey much larger than themselves such as wild pigs.
Fossa, unlike most carnivores, are slow growing, not reaching adult weight until 3-4 years of age. For the Houston Zoo pups, that means they have to stay inside in their “baby-proof” enclosures for longer than some of our other kids. The mesh in their outdoor enclosure has openings that would allow them to squeeze through. Keepers are looking forward to when they can go outside.
Content by Beth Schaefer, Curator of Primates and Carnivores, Houston Zoo