Nashville Zoo is proud to announce the birth of two male Palawan binturongs born Nov. 7. The pair named Wilbur and Templeton were a very special addition as they are the first of their subspecies to be born in the United States.
The Palawan binturong (Arctictis binturong whitei) is a smaller subspecies of binturong (also known as bearcat) only reaching around 40 pounds. While they aren’t considered endangered, they are classified as vulnerable due to destruction of habitat and pet trade. Nashville Zoo currently has five adults and one kit, Wilbur. The second kit, Templeton, was sent to the Columbus Zoo. Previously, Nashville Zoo was the only zoo to include Palawan binturongs in its animal collection. While the five adult binturongs are not on exhibit, the kit, Wilbur, is being hand raised and can be seen along the Zoo's trails as part of the Zoo’s Ambassador Animal Program.
Nashville Zoo’s Curator of Behavioral Husbandry, Jacqueline Menish, has exciting plans for Wilbur. “He will be a wonderful Ambassador in all types of on-site programming, including animal encounters, special events, and some educational programs,” said Menish. “He will also be travelling off grounds to meet folks in our outreach programs, such as visits to schools, hospitals, and senior centers. Wilbur will help bring awareness about the incredible diversity of animals throughout the world, the need to protect species found in forests throughout Asia, and the amazing conservation work we are doing here at Nashville Zoo. We are so privileged to share with our community one of the most rare and interesting animals in the world.”
Another exciting Nashville Zoo birth was a male banded palm civet born Sept. 1. The single offspring marks the first successful birth of a banded palm civet at an AZA accredited zoo in the past decade. Cincinnati Zoo is the only other zoo in North America housing this species.
The banded palm civet (Hemigalus derbyanus) is found in Southeast Asia. This species, roughly the size of a domestic cat, measures 16 – 20 inches in length and weighs two to six pounds. Despite their cat-like appearance and behaviors, banded palm civets are more closely related to weasels and mongooses. Nashville Zoo currently has no plans to exhibit banded palm civets. The young male named Vern will continue to be reared by his mother and will eventually be paired with a female to continue the breeding program.