A baby Fossa (pronounced FOO-sa) was born this summer at the San Diego Zoo. Now 12 weeks old, the Fossa pup, its mother and three siblings moved into their new home in the Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks exhibit last week and wasted no time exploring—jumping over grassy areas, climbing on rocks and playing in trees.
Weighing 12 to 22 pounds, Fossas are the largest carnivorous mammals on the African island of Madagascar. The classification of Fossas has been vigorously debated for decades. They have been linked to Cats, Civets, and Mongooses based on their physical characteristics and DNA analyses. Fossas are currently in the family Eupleridae along with other carnivores of Madagascar.
Fossas’ slender bodies, muscular limbs, and long tails enable them to move with dexterity along tree branches. They are active in early morning, late afternoon, and late at night, when they hunt small animals such as Birds, Rodents, and Lemurs. Communication between individuals occurs via scent markings and sounds including purrs, calls, and yelps.
Little is known about Fossas’ habits because they live in remote areas, and there are only an estimated 2,600 to 8,800 Fossas remaining in the wild. They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.