Will it be a match made in binturong heaven?
Hi. I’m Shauna, and I’m a member of the Carnivore Team here at Zoo Atlanta. You may not know, but animals, as with humans, have a “get to know you” period when they are introduced to new individuals of their species. We’ve recently introduced the two binturongs to each other, so I’ll let you know a little about the process. Many of the animals here at the Zoo, binturongs included, are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which is a program that is designed to ensure healthy and stable zoo populations of certain species. In order to accomplish this, individuals of the particular species sometimes are recommended to move to different zoos so they can be paired with partners that provide the most genetic diversity possible. This is the case for our resident binturong pair, Bramble and Baloo. The pair came to us from two different facilities on a breeding recommendation from the coordinator of the Binturong SSP.
Once they arrive, the next step is getting two individuals who are not familiar with each other together; this goes for a breeding pair as well as animals meant for companionship. We have not bred binturongs here at the Zoo, so we had to talk to other facilities to see what to expect. Each binturong was given the chance to explore the habitat without the other. After a short period of familiarization and letting them get to smell each other’s scents, we performed what’s called a “howdy” session. This is when the individuals being introduced are able to interact with each other through a mesh barrier. They can see each other, smell each other, and vocalize to each other through the security of a barrier. The binturongs both showed quite a bit of interest in one another during this period, so we knew it was time to move on to a physical introduction. The physical introduction involved a lot of exploring and scent marking, as well as a bit of vocalizations. They are working on learning each other and their trust in each other, which is to be expected. Each of them has established a sleeping spot, which is a good sign that they are comfortable with each other. Only time will tell if this is a match made in binturong heaven.