Taronga’s new Binturong cub is starting to explore its exhibit and keen-eyed visitors, with the help of their noses, may spot the cub exploring its lush home at Wild Asia.
At nine weeks of age the large, kitten-sized cub, which is yet to be named, can be spotted in the trees and visitors will not have any problems finding its home within the Wild Asia exhibit as the unusual Asian carnivore smells a bit like burnt popcorn.
Binturong Keeper, Lisa Abra, said: “Although the youngster has just started to discover the delights of Binturong’s main food, fruit, we are yet to find out whether it’s boy or girl and for the moment we haven’t given it name. We won’t know until it is four or five months old so we are temporarily calling it ‘her’,”
“The mother, ‘Pepper’ and father ‘Emas’, have been breeding very successfully since they moved to Taronga from Singapore Zoo in 2005. This latest edition is their fifth litter since they arrived and with all the other cubs being male, it would be nice to have a female in the family!”
Lisa said that the pair is very compatible. While the Zoo has displayed Binturongs since the 1950s, none of the previous pairings produced any offspring. Even though little is know about Binturong litters in the wild, at 19 years of age and as the oldest Binturong that Taronga has ever had, it is likely that this will be Pepper’s last cub, making it even more special.
Binturongs are an unusual tree-dwelling carnivore from south-east Asia and described a looking like a bear-cat. Their faces at cat-like with bushy whiskers and have coarse dark brown-black fur and a long, bushy tail that is prehensile allowing the animal to use its tail to help it climb among the branches.
The Binturong exhibit is just behind the Asian Elephant barn and the youngster can be glimpsed prowling through the undergrowth and clambering through the branches, often interrupting its parents’ naps during the day.
Binturongs live in south-east Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia and are distantly related to meerkats. These popular and cute animals grow up to 97cm in length, and their tails add another 60-89cms.
Binturongs are listed by the IUCN as ‘Vunerable’, because their wild population has declined by more than 30% in 30 years. This is due mainly to the huge increase of palm oil plantations throughout south-east Asia, which are having a devastating effect on the native animals which rely on the tropical forests for their food.
Readers are invited to submit their suggestions for the cub’s name, which must reflect Binturong’s cultural and geographic heritage. Keepers will choose the best name and the winner will be invited with their family to meet the Binturong’s keepers and spend a day at the Zoo.