As I was walking through the beautiful sanctuary of Big Cat Rescue, I chanced upon one of the most unusual looking creatures I had ever seen. Was it a cat? Was it in the bear family? I just couldn’t make it out, and apparantly most others couldn’t either, hence its nickname the Bearcat.
It is the only member of its genus (for example the human genus is homo and our species is sapien, which is why we are called “Homo sapiens”). The real meaning behind the name Binturong has been lost with the exinct language that named it.
These interesting fellas are nocturnal and sleep on branches in their bushy canopies. They habitat rainforests in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal, India, China, Bhutan, Burma, the Rhio Archipelago, Borneo, Palawan, and Bangladesh.
And how they have personality! They are known for making chuckling sounds when they are very happy and high-pitched wails when a little more than perturbed! And when perturbed, they will unexpectedly pull out their hairy “third arm”, which is really just its prehensile tail that they use for climbing and eating, like one would use one’s hands.
Mainly omnivorous, binturongs eat mostly fruit with sometimes the addition of eggs, shoots, leaves, rodents, and birds.
Other than being particularly beautiful and the only one of their genus, why are they unique? It is thought that the binturong is 1/100 species that can delay implantation of their fetus, a process known as embryonic diapause. The reason for wanting to delay this process may be to coincide the birthing of the baby with optimal environmental conditions. Thus the mother and baby have a higher chance of surviving.
Smelly? Only to some! You might notice a strong scent of muskiness, sometimes described as “warm buttered popcorn” if you stand downwind of it. This smell is released from glands on either side of the anus in both males and females, which binturongs use to communicate. On my little adventure to Big Cat Rescue, it seemed that this binturong either mistook me for another binturong, which is quite a compliment, was trying to speak to its relatives far off on the Asian continent, or was just emptying its scent glands because it so kindly released its musky-hi-I-love-kettle-corn smell right in front of me.
Unfortunately the binturong numbers have decreased in the wild. If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you probably have the answer on the tip of your tongue. That’s right: humans. And specifically humans causing deforestation. Without their rainforest, where do these creatures sleep, eat, and survive?
Enjoy your Wacky Wednesday and Stay Wild,