Earlier this year the olinguito was discovered and named (correctly) for the first time. This lovely little chap is the first new species of carnivore to be found in the western hemisphere in 35 years. I wrote an article about the olinguito’s discovery at the time, but just recently there have been some photos of a baby olinguito appear on the internet so I thought I’d better show you.
The olinguito is a member of the raccoon family and at top size only stretches to a wimpy at 35 cm, so he’s only a little fella. He hangs about in Colombian and Ecuadorian forests, but was officially discovered in a box of pelts in a museum in Chicago, thanks to the magic of DNA. The ever sharpening tools of science now allow even quite old DNA to be read and cross checked.
I like to think I am well above and impervious to cooing and ahh-ing at baby critters, but here I have failed. Cute doesn’t even cover it.
This little bundle of “OOOooooo”was found by eco group SavingSpecies in La Mesenia Reserve in Colombia. SavingSpecies, according to their site, fund conservation programs worldwide that conserve the most biodiversity and connect them to donors, helping donors reduce their carbon footprint. Good work.
We’ve only just found the olinguito, but unfortunately the little blighter is probably endangered already. People are brilliant at cutting down loads of trees all of the time and this is probably putting some pressure on the little balls of fluff. The fact that the team found some baby ones is a good sign though. At least they’re breeding.
The impressive claws help it grab on to the tops of trees in the cloud forest, and the pads give extra grip. It sort of looks like a teddy-bear / cat doesn’t it? This is a fully grown one:
You’re not likely to see one in your back garden I’m afraid, so those pictures will have to do…. unless you’re reading this in Colombia or Ecuador, and if you are, thanks for reading my new foreign friends. Come again.