This creature is Wilbur, a binturong, also known as a “bearcat”, who has become somewhat of a local celebrity. He resides at the Nashville Zoo, where he spends his days lounging in complex arboreal habitats designed to mimic the dense canopies of Southeast Asian forests.
Being one of the best climbers in the world, Wilbur loves to climb one of his caretakers, Jake. But what he loves even more is when he’s treated to his fave snack – banana.
As a resident of the zoo, Wilbur plays a crucial role in educating visitors about his species. This is becoming increasingly important as his species is currently considered vulnerable.
They Look Like Bear-Cats, But What Are They Really?
Binturongs are often called bear-cats due to their physical appearance, which seems to borrow traits from both animals. They possess a stout body, thick fur, and a face that could remind one of a bear, while their agile movement and long tails suggest feline qualities.
However, binturongs are actually members of the Viverridae family, which includes civets and genets.
Why They’re One of the World’s Best Climbers
- Prehensile Tail: The binturong has a prehensile tail that acts as a fifth limb, aiding in balance and grip as they navigate through the treetops.
- Tail Length: Their tail can be as long as their body, which is crucial for their acrobatic maneuvers in the forest canopy.
- Strong, Clawed Feet: Their feet are equipped with strong claws, enhancing their climbing ability and making them one of the most adept climbers in the animal kingdom.
- Rotatable Ankles: Binturongs have the remarkable ability to rotate their ankles 180 degrees, enabling them to climb down trees headfirst and navigate complex branches more effectively.
They Smell Like Buttered Popcorn
Perhaps one of the most delightful and surprising facts about binturongs is their scent, which closely resembles that of buttered popcorn. This unique smell comes from a chemical compound in their urine, which they use to mark their territory and communicate with other binturongs.
Purrs Like a Cat
Despite their bear-like appearance, binturongs share a comforting characteristic with domestic cats: they purr. When content, Wilbur and his kind emit a gentle, purring sound, indicative of their relaxed state.
This purring not only endears them to humans but also adds to the complexity of their behavior, demonstrating that despite their wild nature, they can express contentment in ways that are familiar to us.
The Binturong From Nashville: Conclusion
By learning about creatures like Wilbur, we gain not only knowledge but also a greater appreciation for the biodiversity that enriches our planet. The Nashville Zoo provides a window into Wilbur’s world, inviting visitors to marvel at the wonders of nature and reminding us of the importance of conservation and understanding across all species.
Thank you for reading this story about Wilbur the binturong from Nashville! Also take a look at these creatures from the animal kingdom:
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