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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

“It has been more than four years since the Zoo has had a bearcat here and we are excited to see its return,” said Thane Maynard, executive director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. “If there’s one zoo in this country that should have a bearcat in its collection, it’s the Cincinnati Zoo. We hope that the students and staff at the University of Cincinnati and the entire Cincinnati community visit the newest addition to our animal family.

"We are back in the Bearcat business," Maynard quipped.

“The University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden have a long and rich history of collaboration. Our mutual academic interests, shared goals and inquisitive minds find fertile ground in the Uptown community. Many of our faculty conduct research at the Zoo and

many of the Zoo’s staff teach part time at UC. Our relationship goes beyond just that of being neighbors,” said UC President Nancy L. Zimpher.

“The entire UC community — students, faculty, staff and Uptown neighbors — is delighted to have a Bearcat once again at the Cincinnati Zoo. We look forward to continuing our fantastic working relationship and to seeing the new Bearcat baby on display.”

Also among those in attendance representing UC was Student Body Vice President Jared Brandyberry.

A bearcat is neither a cat nor a bear; it is more like a civet. Often referred to by their proper name, a binturong, bearcats are nocturnal animals from the dense forests of Southeast Asia.  They have long, coarse fur which is longer on the tail than on the body and the hairs are black and often with gray, buff tips. Their long tails allow them to move from tree to tree to find food. Their tail acts as a third hand for the bearcat.

“Alice” the former Zoo bearcat, cheered for the University of Cincinnati from the mid-'80s to late '90s. Alice lived at the Cincinnati Zoo and was a regular attraction at UC's home football and basketball games for nearly 13 years. In her time at the Cincinnati Zoo, Alice was somewhat of a star herself. She met a number of celebrities including David Letterman, Johnny Carson, Prince Charles and Newt Gingrich.

The 3-month-old female bearcat still needs a name. The public can enter the Zoo’s “Name the Baby Bearcat” contest and submit a name today by logging on to the Zoo’s Web site at Contest ends April 30 and the winning name will be announced Friday, May 9.

The baby bearcat was born January 17, 2008, and will be on display for the public in the Zoo’s nursery beginning today and throughout the Zoo Babies celebration, which runs May 10–25.  Then, Zoo guests can see the bearcat this summer in the Zoo’s world-renowned Great American Wings of Wonder Bird Show. The Cincinnati Zoo and UC are also discussing plans for the baby bearcat to make a guest appearance at future events on UC’s campus.

To help celebrate the return of the bearcat, the Cincinnati Zoo is offering half-price Zoo admission to all University of Cincinnati students, faculty and staff with a valid UC ID now through May 25.