What smells like popcorn, purrs like a kitten, and has a tail as long as its body? Why, a Binturong of course! Meet the The Staten Island Zoo's newest resident a six-week playful and inquisitive Binturong named “Oliver Wolf.” The four-pound creature, also known as Bearcat, is a viverrid found in South and Southeast Asia. It is uncommon or rare over much of its range and listed as vulnerable because of a population decline estimated to be more than 30%.
Weighing 50 lbs or more at maturity, Oliver Wolf will eventually serve as an ambassador animal, meeting and educating the public about the plight of his species in the wild.
Binturongs are identifiable by a prehensile tail that is as long as its body and are classified as carnivores although they eat mostly fruit. They are related to civets and fossas. In the wild, Binturongs sleep during the day high in the forest canopy and love to bask in the sun. They play a special role in rainforest ecology by spreading seeds from the fruits they eat and subsequently poop out.
From 2005 to 2009, the Staten Island Zoo exhibited the only Binturong in the New York metropolitan region and was among only 27 zoos in the country to have them in their collection. They are considered a “red” program in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) due to the low numbers available for breeding and thus low genetic diversity. The Staten Island Zoo participates in the international Species Survival Program the strategy of which is to add to the breeding population of threatened and endangered species.