NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Lot’s of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ heard over at Nashville Zoo’s HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center as a newborn binturong, also known as a bearcat, is out in full view.
“Hi, little one,” Bailey Jones, a vet tech for the zoo, picked up the 13-day-old binturong as she walked News 2 through her daily routine care.
First, she weighed him. As he squeaked and flopped, the scale finally measured him at around 3lbs and 7oz.
Then she “pottied him.” Meaning, she had to help him use the bathroom, stimulating him just like his mother would naturally. “We use baby wipes and soft paper towels,” Jones said.
Finally, Jones bottle fed him, “The reason we have to pull these guys is because mom doesn’t produce milk.”
Binturongs have unique features like being only one of two carnivores that has a prehensile tail, meaning it can grasp or hold onto objects.
“Also, another fun fact for these guys, you always hear them be associated with buttered popcorn because their urine smells like buttered popcorn,” said Jones.
Now, he isn’t Nashville Zoo’s first binturong baby. The creatures are part of the zoo’s Species Survival Plan or SSP. Eventually, he will be moved to another institute to continue the SSP, which is why the zoo has not given him a name yet.
Jones continued, “We don’t have an exhibit for binturongs. His parents are behind the scenes.”
However, the zoo does have two binturongs, Willow and Wilbur, that are ambassador animals that participate in the zoo shows.
The vet center at the zoo is the only way you can see the new kit up close, which by the way will help his species out in the wild.
“Your admission, your ticket all of that goes towards conservation,” Jones explained.
Binturongs are considered vulnerable because their natural habitat, the Palawan Island of the Philippines, is being destroyed for palm oil. Jones said they’re also hunted for their fur and meat.
Other steps people can take to help binturongs survive in the wild is to avoid products with palm oil and that includes checking your Halloween candy.
You can also watch this little guy grow using the Nashville Zoo Nursery Cam on WKRN.com. Just click on this link.
News 2 has partnered with Nashville Zoo to bring you weekly segments of Zoopalooza. You can watch them on News 2 on Good Morning Nashville on Saturday and right here on WKRN.com.