The first carnivore discovered in the last 35 years in the western hemisphere looks like a teddy bear

Mark Gurney



The first carnivore discovered in the last 35 years in the western hemisphere looks like a teddy bear


The discovery of the Olinguito in 2013 marked a significant milestone in the field of zoology, highlighting not only the rich biodiversity of our planet but also the existence of yet-to-be-discovered species in even well-studied habitats. As the smallest Procyonidae family member, including raccoons, coatis, and their relatives, the Olinguito brought excitement and wonder to the scientific community and the world at large.

With its dense, woolly fur that ranges in color from rich brown to vibrant orange, the Olinguito bears a unique appearance that can be whimsically described as a cross between a cat and a teddy bear. This dense fur, thicker and more lustrous than that of its close relatives, the olingos, provides the Olinguito with insulation against the cooler climates of its Andean forest habitat. For over a century, this elusive creature was mistaken for its larger cousin, the olingo, due to their physical similarities and shared habitat. However, detailed genetic and morphological analyses eventually revealed the Olinguito as a distinct species, underscoring the importance of thorough scientific investigation in understanding biodiversity.

Adapted to life in the treetops, the Olinguito is both nocturnal and arboreal. Its behavior is characterized by remarkable agility and skill in navigating the forest canopy. These animals are adept jumpers, capable of moving gracefully from branch to branch in their quest for food and shelter. This arboreal lifestyle is a testament to the Olinguito’s adaptation to the dense, cloud forests of the Andes, where they spend much of their time in the upper layers of the forest, rarely descending to the ground.

The diet of the Olinguito primarily consists of fruits, with figs being a particular favorite. However, their dietary habits are not limited to fruit alone; they also supplement their intake with nectar and insects.


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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No