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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 


Curious New Species to Zoo Shares Traits of Many Animals

Denver, CO (April 15, 2010) – Denver Zoo visitors can enjoy seeing a brand new species to the zoo, a fossa (Foo-suh). The curious male carnivore, named Dorian, was born at San Diego Zoo in 2006. Dorian is described by zookeepers as very curious and mischievous and is always checking things out. Visitors can see him checking out his new surroundings now in Denver Zoo’s Feline I Building.

Fossas almost resemble small mountain lions, but their closest relative is the mongoose. They have short, brown coats. Adults stand just over a foot 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. They are largely solitary animals except when breeding. Eventually zookeepers hope to bring a female to Denver Zoo to breed with Dorian.

The fossas’ status in the wild is unknown. Once thought to be vulnerable with less than 2500 estimated in the wild, now experts are uncertain due to a lack of sightings.