Fossa Pup Is a First for Denver Zoo


Denver Zoo recently celebrated the birth of its very first Fossa (FOO-sah) pup!  



Fossa and momPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

Born on July 28th, the male Fossa pup, ‘Rico’, stayed behind the scenes for his first couple months, under the watchful, attentive eye of his mother, ‘Violet’.

Rico was born to Violet, and father, ‘Dorian’. Violet was born at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in June 2010 and arrived at Denver Zoo in April 2012. Dorian was the very first Fossa to live at Denver Zoo, arriving in February 2010 from Utah’s Hogle Zoo. He was born at the San Diego Zoo in May 2006. The two were paired in early June when Violet was mature enough to breed. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

Fossas almost resemble small mountain lions, but their closest relative is actually the mongoose. They have short, brown coats. Adults stand about 8 inches tall at the shoulder and can stretch about two-and-half feet from head to backside. Their tails can be just as long and provide good balance when navigating though trees while hunting for prey. Their teeth, jaws and partially retractable claws resemble those of a cat, but their agility has been described as almost primate-like. They can hang upside down and quickly climb to the top of a tree.

Even though they may only weigh about 20 pounds, Fossas are the largest mammalian carnivore on Madagascar. Roughly half their diet consists of lemurs, but they also eat lizards, birds and smaller livestock. Fossas are cathemeral, meaning they are active and looking for prey at any part of the day or night, depending on mood and food availability.

The Fossa is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. However, with less than 2,500 estimated individuals in the wild, experts are uncertain about the future of the species, due to a lack of sightings. It is estimated, in the past 21 years, there has been a population reduction exceeding 30% and beyond. Their major threats come from habitat loss and hunting.


Three's Company For Houston Zoo's Fossa Troupe!


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!



Photo Credit: Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

More pics and info below the fold!

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France Finds Success Breeding Fossa Pups!


The Fossa, an unusual carnivore native to Madagascar, is the island's largest predator. With only 2000 individuals surviving, it is considered to be among the world's most endangered species. In order to preserve the species, a European breeding program was initiated under the EAZA (The Association of European Zoos and Aquariums). The breeding of this species in captivity is extremely difficult.  In September of this year, Calviac Zoological Reserve in France became the only European institution in 2011 to succeed with the births of two baby Fossas.

Now nearly 3 months old, the youngsters dexterously climb branches over 13 feet high. Fully weaned at 6 months, wild Fossas remain with their mothers until the age of 18 months, after which they will live in solitude.





Fossa Pups!

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo has two new Fossa pups, born on June 26, 2010. Native to the island of Madagascar, Fossas are the main predator of lemurs. They are very agile climbers whose ankles can rotate 180 degrees. This allows them to climb down a tree face-forward while gripping with their back feet. Looking like a cross between a cat and a weasel, they are most closely related to mongooses.



Fossa-Pup Photo Credits: Henry Doorly Zoo


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Feisty Fossa Debuts in Denver

This week, the Denver Zoo welcomed Dorian the fossa, a feisty and mischievous four year old. However, we used this occasion as an excuse to dig up some old photos of Dorian and his two siblings when they were just pups at the San Diego Zoo back in 2006.

Baby fossa sd zoo 1

Baby fossa sd zoo 2

Baby fossa sd zoo 3

Above photo credits: San Diego Zoo

Fossas are the largest carnivore in Madagascar and they are closely related to the mongoose. In case you doubted their feistiness, enjoy the video below. They are like cat-weasels on speed.

A portrait of Dorian as a young man, getting used to his new surroundings at the Denver Zoo.

Dorian as a young man

Photo credit: Dave Parsons / Denver Zoo 

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