Cotswold Wildlife Park's first Binturong twins make their debut for World Binturong Day

By Jessica Durston - 13 May 2022

CommunityBusiness
  • A close up of cub Fig

    A close up of cub Fig

Cotswold Wildlife Park's Binturong breeding pair have produced their first set of twins in time for World Binturong Day (Saturday 14 May).

Himala with cub Rosie (photo credit Willemijn Koch)

This year, Saturday, 14 May is World Binturong Day – a worldwide event to raise awareness for this rare and endangered mammal.

This year, keepers at Cotswold Wildlife Park have some exciting news to share with visitors – the Park’s breeding pair, Dobby and Himala, have produced their first set of twins.

Their cubs are the first Binturong twins to be born at the park. Visitors can see the youngsters exploring their enclosure opposite the Insect and Invertebrate House.

Cotswold Wildlife Park says it is dedicated to animal conservation and proudly supports World Binturong Day. Now in its eighth year, it highlights the plight these relatively unknown mammals face in the wild.

Population numbers have declined by 30% in the last 18 years and they are listed as vulnerable on the International Union of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. To raise awareness and funds for their conservation programme, this Saturday, there will be a dedicated World Binturong Day stand at the Park where visitors can learn more about these creatures and take part in various fundraising activities.

All funds raised will go to ABC Conservation. More information about the project can be found at https://www.abconservation.org/en/.

Keepers say Binturong parents Dobby and Himala were first introduced to each other back in 2018 and immediately formed a strong bond. Their first cub, Coconut, was born in 2019 and their second, Rambutan, followed in 2020.

At the end of 2021, keepers suspected Himala was pregnant due to her size and voracious appetite. After a three month gestation period, she gave birth to twins. The newborns were born in seclusion inside the nest box where they spent several weeks out of sight.

Cubs are born with their eyes sealed and are completely reliant on their mother for the first few months of their life. They eventually emerged from the nest box and began exploring their heated indoor home under the watchful eye of their parents. Recently the cubs, sexed as female, started to venture into the exhibit’s outdoor area much to the delight of visitors who are said to be amazed at their acrobatic prowess.

Keeping with the tradition of naming cubs after fruits found in their native homeland of south-east Asia, one of the cubs has been named Fig (after their favourite food), but the other cub has a far more personal story behind the name.

Mammal keeper James explains: “My grandmother Rosie was always full of encouragement and endless enthusiasm for my love of animals, in particular Lions, ever since I was young. As a child, my grandparents would take me to lots of different zoos and time at home would be spent watching animal programmes on TV. 

"When I started to work as a zookeeper, she would travel all over the country to visit me at work to see the animals in my care, including here at Cotswold Wildlife Park where she came to visit in 2019 and we had a picture taken by the Lions.

"She loved her day at the Park. She was, as she would say, my “biggest fan”, so it felt right when thinking of a name for the Binturong kits that one of them should be called Rosie in her honour”. Rosie was born shortly after James lost his beloved grandmother."

James added: “Both Binturong kits have been an absolute delight to watch as they have grown – they’ve been endless fun. Fig and Rosie are pretty much inseparable and are always busy getting up to all kinds of mischief!

"Although both very cheeky, they have developed slightly different traits; Fig was a little bigger to start with and has always loved her food whereas Rosie can be a little bit more cautious at times but is never shy for too long.

"This is the first time that we have reared Binturong twins here at the Park so to see them develop together has been very exciting for all of us with experienced parents Himala and Dobby taking it all in their stride”.

Cotswold Wildlife Park is home to more than 1,500 animals from 250 different species. Keepers say the Binturongs in particular spark a great deal of curiosity from visitors due to its bizarre appearance and sweet-smelling aroma.

Binturongs (Arctictis binturong), also known as Bearcats, are related to small forest predators like Fossas, Civets and Genets. They are also the only creature to emit a completely unique scent which smells like buttered popcorn and visitors often smell these unusual mammals before they see them. The popcorn-like scent emitted in their urine is believed to convey information about sex and reproductive state.

Binturongs are also one of only two carnivores with a prehensile tail which can be used as an extra limb to help it climb. In addition, a female Binturong can produce up to six cubs after a three month gestation period. The two Binturongs Coconut and Rambutan have joined other zoological collections as part of the European Breeding Programme.

The Binturong is said to play a remarkable role in its rainforest ecosystem; it has the ability to aid the regeneration of the forest. It does this by swallowing the seeds from fruits whole and then spreading them across the forest in its faecal matter.

Seeds germinate faster after travelling through the Binturong’s gut. Binturong are also a vital seed disperser of the Strangler Fig tree. Strangler Fig trees are very important as they provide sleeping and nesting sites for many rainforest birds, mammals and insects.  

Cotswold Wildlife Park says it proudly supports the Bearcat Study Programme which aims to improve the knowledge of this species in its native habitat and collect field data to assist with its IUCN status. More information can be found online at https://www.abconservation.org/en/.          

Park staff are also reminding members of the public that normal admission price applies for World Binturong Day.

More information on the park can be found on its website at https://www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk/https://www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk/

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