MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Rainforest animal found at rest area finds refuge in local zoo

Jun 27, 2024, 5:39 PM

Photo: A kinkajou, a rainforest animal that looks similar to a lemur, was discovered far from its n...

A kinkajou, a rainforest animal that looks similar to a lemur, was discovered far from its natural habitat. (Photo courtesy of WSDOT)

(Photo courtesy of WSDOT)

A kinkajou, a rainforest animal that looks similar to a lemur, was discovered far from its natural habitat. The animal was found at the east Selah Creek rest area near Yakima over the weekend, reported the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

WSDOT crews said they didn’t know why it was at the rest area but thought it either escaped or was dropped off. Shortly after it was found, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police rescued it.

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The Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium then posted about the kinkajou, saying it will temporarily live at the zoo. It also said zoo staff “quickly mobilized” the animal and are working with state wildlife officials to find a space place for it to live.

When the kinkajou first arrived, the zoo said it was immediately quarantined at the zoo’s hospital and underwent a comprehensive wellness exam with the veterinarian team. The zoo also noted that while the animal is not endangered, it is hunted for its fur and the exotic pet trade.

“This kinkajou’s survival is a testament to the collaborative efforts of state wildlife law enforcement and the Zoo, highlighting the dangers of the illegal pet trade,” stated the zoo.

But what is a kinkajou exactly?

According to the San Diego Zoo, a kink-ah-joo can be found in the tropical rainforests from southern Mexico through Brazil. Its scientific name is Potos flavus, which translates to golden drinker, as the animal has a golden-brown coat and is fond of nectar. The zoo said the name kinkajou comes from a word that means honey bear and the animal has a sweet tooth.

Although many confuse kinkajou with primates, the animal is actually a carnivore from the Procyonidae family, the same family as raccoons.

“Despite their cuteness, kinkajous do not make good pets,” stated Point Defiance.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X here and email her here.

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