Potter Park Zoo welcomes at-risk newborn bintlets

(Potter Park Zoo)
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 12:17 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Potter Park Zoo celebrated the birth of baby binturong, or as they are called bintlets, on July 4.

Potter Park Zoo announced the birth of the baby bintlets on Tuesday. They said their female binturong (Arctictis binturong), named Thistle, gave birth to three babies on Independence Day 2022. According to officials this was the first binturong birth at the zoo in over two decades.

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One of the three bintlets unfortunately was found to be sick and passed away a week following the birth.

Binturongs, often referred to as bearcats live in the canopies of tropical rain forests in southeast Asia.

Zoo officials said that bintlets are “born with eyes sealed and remain hidden in the mother’s thick fur for their first few days. At six to eight weeks, they are the size of a domestic cat, have grown a coat of coarse hair, and begin to explore and eat solid food.”

Director of Animal Health Dr. Ronan Eustace was one of the experts who helped with the birthing process.

“Animal care staff has done a great job training the mother binturong Thistle to allow awake ultrasounds. Thistle voluntarily stands in position to let me ultrasound her abdomen and she can choose to walk away at any time,” said Dr. Eustace. “We’ve been able to collect valuable information on fetal parameter development in Binturongs and we hope to share this information to the zoo wide community in a scientific publication in the future.”

bintlets newborn Potter Park
bintlets newborn Potter Park(Potter Park Zoo)

The Potter Park Zoo team was monitoring the new family through a camera in a nest box as well as weighing the babies daily. The two bintlets are continuing to gain weight at a consistent rate and are very strong.

The father binturong named Barry was born in 2017 at the Brookfield Zoo and the mother Thistle was born in 2019 at the Roger Williams Zoo. Binturongs are listed as vulnerable in some parts of their habitat in the wild and endangered in others. They are currently at risk due to habitat destruction, poaching for traditional Asian medicines, and the fur and pet trade.

Potter Park Zoo visitors can still see Barry in his habitat, but will have to wait a few months before Thistle and the bintlets are out.


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