After three baby binturongs had to be temporarily raised by zookeepers, they have been reunited with their mom and are “thriving,” Zoo Atlanta said.
Now, the zoo wants the public’s help deciding what to name the bearcats.
The baby binturongs — known as bintlets — were born at the end of August in a first for Zoo Atlanta, officials announced.
The zoo’s attempt to breed mom Bramble and dad Baloo was successful, yielding the birth of three members of the vulnerable species native to South and Southeast Asia.
However, Bramble didn’t accept her babies at first. She wasn’t nursing them, and she walked away and rested on the other side of her den after about an hour of caring for them, the zoo said.
“Through discussions between the Carnivore and Vet teams, the decision was made to pull all three bintlets, two boys and a girl, for hand rearing, as Bramble had lost all interest in them,” the zoo shared in a story about the bintlets. “This was not a decision that we wanted to make, but we felt it was necessary.”
Keepers fed the bintlets every two hours to make sure they gained weight as they should. They decided to try to reintroduce two of them to their mother after they had gained weight, and she accepted them. The third had to be kept in the care of the keepers for three more weeks because he wasn’t growing enough.
“Those 2am and 4am feedings are fun, let me tell you,” a zookeeper wrote for Zoo Atlanta’s website.
Despite binturongs’ nicknames of bearcats, they aren’t related to either. Binturongs give off a popcorn-like scent because “their urine contains 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, the chemical compound that gives popcorn its aroma,” according to the Smithsonian National Zoo.
They are only one of two carnivorous species with a prehensile tail, according to the Smithsonian.
Eventually, the third baby, which received the name Watson in zookeeper care, was reintroduced to his siblings and mom, the zoo said.
Since then, the binturongs have explored their enclosure and are doing well, although they are not on display yet. They “continue to grow and cause mischief behind the scene,” the zoo said.
The proposed names for the male bintlet are Fig, Basil, Oliver and Banyan. The potential names for the female are Fig, Fern, Olive and Winnie.
Voting for the names is open now through Nov. 26, according to the zoo, which plans to announce the winning names on Nov. 30.