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Zoo Atlanta Welcomes Baloo the Binturong

There’s a “bearcat” exploring Complex Carnivores.

Zoo Atlanta welcomes Baloo, a 1-year-old male binturong, to the animal population. A recent arrival from the Brookfield Zoo, Baloo is now exploring his new home in the Zoo’s Complex Carnivores zone.

Also known as “bearcats” for their physical resemblances to both, binturongs are neither bears nor cats but are instead most closely related to civets. Binturongs are also distinctive in that they are one of only two members of the order Carnivora to feature a prehensile tail.

“We’re very excited to welcome Baloo to Zoo Atlanta. While many of our guests visit the Zoo to experience seeing the animals that almost everyone is familiar with, we always look forward to acquainting them with species they may have less knowledge of,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “As an ambassador for his species, Baloo also gives us a valuable opportunity to raise awareness of the palm oil crisis, which is an urgent conservation challenge for wildlife in many parts of the world, but particularly in the binturong’s native range.”

Native to southern and southeast Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and parts of China, 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.

Plan a visit or learn more about binturongs at Learn more about the palm oil crisis at


Rachel Davis
Director of Communications
404.624.2812 – office
404.309.2238 – cell

Gavin Johnson
Public Relations and Communications Specialist
404.624.5980 – office

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 Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, home to more than 70 species in the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian complex. Experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African lions, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas and lemurs. Zoo Atlanta is open year-round with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper Talks, interactive wildlife presentations, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit

NOW OPEN: the all-new African Savanna, featuring new and expanded habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, warthogs and meerkats. Coming soon: southern white rhino.

NOW OPEN FOR EVENTS: Savanna Hall, a state-of-the-art special event destination in the newly-restored historic former home of the Atlanta Cyclorama. Highlights include the Michael & Thalia Carlos Ballroom, a two-level space with sweeping views into the African Savanna; the Delta Savanna Terrace; multi-purpose meeting venues; and more.

The African Savanna and Savanna Hall are part of the Zoo’s landmark Grand New View transformation. Future elements include an enhanced entry plaza, opening in early 2020. For more on the Zoo’s mission and conservation programs and partnerships, visit or download the conservation report, Beyond the Zoo.

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