Conservation Corner

More Complex Carnivores for Zoo Atlanta

You may remember fossa from the movie Madagascar. As relatives of the mongoose, fossa can only be found on this remote island off the coast of Africa. They grow up to 6 feet long and weight up to 26 pounds. While fossa are cat-like in appearance, it is a common misconception that they are part of the big cat family. Fossa are the largest carnivores found on Madagascar, and as an apex predator, they feed on lemurs, pigs and small mammals. These carnivores are so skilled at moving through the trees, using their retractable claws and long tails, that is has been difficult for scientists to observe and study them in their native habitats. We are fortunate to bring these unique animals to Zoo Atlanta, so you and your students can observe and learn about their unique behaviors in person.

Binturongs are widespread in Southeast Asia’s tropical rainforests and are omnivorous. They eat a variety of items including fruit, plant shoots, invertebrates, eggs, and carrion. These carnivores are often referred to as “bear cats” because they look like a combination of the two animals. They weigh between 30 and 60 pounds; have shaggy, dark hair, and a prehensile tail that is useful for their arboreal lifestyle. When you visit this new Zoo Atlanta resident, you may notice a familiar smell. Binturongs have been described as smelling like popcorn or corn chips. 

Bush dogs are cooperative hunters found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. Fully grown, this carnivore can be around two to three feet in length, a foot in height, and weigh up to 15 pounds. Living in packs of up to 12 individuals, bush dogs can bring down relatively large prey, including capybaras and agoutis, which are large rodents found in these regions.

With these new additions to Complex Carnivores, Zoo Atlanta offers your students a unique experience to view these exotic and rare species. We look forward to seeing you at the Zoo when it opens this spring!

Learn more about these and other animal ambassadors at Zoo Atlanta.