Playful Baby Binturong at The Staten Island Zoo

Baby Binturong Staten Island Zoo 1

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. 

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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.

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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. 

It's a Bear! It's a Cat! It's Neither!

Baby Bearcats Singapore Zoo Night Safari!

Despite having a body like a small bear and a face similar to a cat, the secretive Bearcat is actually a member of the civet family, more closely related to Mongooses and Meerkats (and true civets of course). These baby Bearcats, also known as Binturongs, were born at the Wildlife Reserves Singapore's Night Safari on January 26.

Found primarily in the rainforest treetops of South and Southeast Asia, Bearcats have a mixed diet of fruits, leaves, birds, fish and eggs. Extremely rare among carnivores, this speices has a fully prehensile tail. The meaning of their other name, Binturong, is unknown as the native language it was derived from is now extinct.

Bearcat Cub Hanging from a Tree

Baby Bearcat Cub at Singapore ZooPhoto credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

A Busy Year for Babies at Chessington Zoo

The UK's Chessington Zoo reports a record year for baby births. Marc Boardman, Zoo Manager, explained: “2009 has been our biggest baby boom EVER at Chessington World of Adventures, with everything from gorillas, spider monkeys and lemurs to frogs, seahorses and condors getting in on the action. Most of the animals in Chessington Zoo are endangered or threatened species and the most important part of the work of the zoo is its contribution to conservation.” 

Mbulu, baby Western Lowland Gorilla

Ayu the Binturong, the first parent-reared Bearcat born in the UK for decades

One of Chessington's many recent Skunk babies

More feathered and furry fun below the fold...

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Cincinnati Zoo's Bearcat is Weird, Wild, and Wonderful

Earlier this year, the Cincinnati Zoo welcomed a bearcat, or Binturong, back to its collection for the first time in four years. And rightly so, the University of Cincinnati's mascot is none other than this unusual furry friend.

The baby bearcat is pictured here at 3 months old.

Bearcat introduction ceremony
Newest bearcat

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