ANNOUNCING THE NAMES OF ZOO ATLANTA’S FIRST BINTLETS!
Get ready to meet Oliver, Fern, and their brother Watson
ATLANTA – November 30, 2023 – “Bearcat” fans, get ready to meet Oliver, his sister Fern, and their brother Watson. The first binturongs ever born at Zoo Atlanta now have names as they prepare for their next milestone: exploring their outdoor habitat.
The 3-month-old youngsters, two males and a female – binturong offspring are known as “bintlets” in the animal kingdom – were born August 31, 2023, to parents Bramble and Baloo. While one male was named Watson by the Animal Care and Veterinary Teams, Watson’s siblings were named via a public online vote open between November 7 and November 26, 2023.
With nearly 2,300 votes cast to select from two sets of names proposed by the Zoo’s Carnivore Team, the names Oliver (male) and Fern (female) rose to the top in what proved to be a close race.
While Oliver, Fern, and Watson are not yet ready to navigate their outdoor habitat in the Zoo’s Complex Carnivores zone, the bintlets are a busy, curious, playful trio sure to win hearts among Zoo Atlanta Members and guests.
Native to southern and southeast Asia, the binturong is a species unfamiliar even to some of the most ardent animal lovers. Despite the nickname “bearcat,” binturongs are neither bears nor cats but are instead most closely related to civets. The species is one of only two members of the order Carnivora to feature a prehensile tail. Also distinctive is their scent, which is said to resemble buttered popcorn or corn chips.
Binturongs are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their most pressing threat is habitat loss for conversion to agriculture, especially for palm oil plantations. Other threats include the pet trade and hunting for their meat, which is considered a delicacy in some parts of their range.
Processed from the fruit of the African oil palm tree and harvested worldwide in warm and temperate climates, palm oil is one of the planet’s most commonplace commodities. It is found in over half of all household products, from foods and beverages to toothpaste, shampoo, and pet food. Some of the planet’s most concentrated regions of palm oil production are in southeast Asia, and these unsustainable activities are resulting in dramatic population declines for numerous animal species.
Zoo Atlanta is one of only a small number of zoos to pursue and attain membership in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil™ (RSPO). The Zoo and many other accredited zoos are vocal advocates for encouraging the use of only sustainable palm oil, supporting only companies who use sustainably produced oil and celebrating those who make the switch, and raising public awareness of the necessity for informed shopping.
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About Zoo Atlanta
A proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care and welfare, Zoo Atlanta has a mission to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education, and engaging experiences. The Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species from around the world, many of them endangered or critically endangered. Highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Recent transformations include the African Savanna, featuring new and expanded habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, bontebok, warthogs, meerkats and rhinos; Savanna Hall, a state-of-the-art special event destination in the newly restored historic former home of the Atlanta Cyclorama; and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Plaza. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.