Great news! What's a bintlet?
Um, just what is a bintlet, you may ask? Binturongs (the adult version of a bintlet) are fascinating creatures hailing from the rainforests of Southeast Asia, where they love to hang out in the lush treetops. It’s one of the few animals with a prehensile tail, meaning it can hold and manipulate objects.
Binturong: The bearcat that is neither bear nor cat. www.youtube.com
Though they are often called bearcats due to their hodgepodge appearance, binturongs are neither bear nor cat. They belong to the Viverridae family, a very unique species group containing all seemingly cat-like critters, though none are actually felines. According to Brittanica, they have even been reported to be affectionate pets, much like the domestic house cat. But still—not cats. Very misleading.
Also: The binturong’s teeth technically classify it as a carnivore. However, it might as well be classified as a fig-atarian, the way it likes to swallow the small fruit whole. Yeah … they’re basically a walking contradiction on four legs.
Perhaps the coolest thing about binturongs: Getting up close and personal with one might have you thinking you waltzed into a movie theater. They mark their territory by secreting a substance that famously smells just like buttery popcorn. Nature’s creativity is endless.
Threatened mostly by deforestation and illegal wildlife trade, binturongs have been listed as “vulnerable” on IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. That makes the birth of Potter Park’s bintlets—the first bintlet birth at the zoo in more than two decades, WILX News reported—all the more special. Baby animal news is great. At-risk baby animal news is even better.
Potter Park posted to its Facebook page congratulating Thistle, the zoo’s female binturong, on her newborns. WILX added that where Thistle would remain with the bintlets for a few months time, the binturong father (named Barry … Barry the binturong, it’s just too perfect) will still be viewable at the zoo’s habitat.
Officials added that sadly, only two of three bintlets made it, due to sickness. Despite 24 hours of care from veterinary and animal care staff, the third bintlet passed away. Still, in the video we see two healthy, squeaking babes right next to their happy mama.
"Love how the mom looks right at the camera like she is saying aren’t my babies the cutest babies ever," one person commented.
And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for—close up photos revealing all the bintlet cuteness.
OMG. A baby bintlet in a baby bathtub. To what do we owe this pleasure?
This one has its little eyes open.
According to Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, bintlets are born with their eyes closed and will cling to their mothers until independent. Sometimes for even longer. Relatable.
Special thanks to Potter Park Zoo and Thistle for delivering some happy news to get us through the week. We got a sweet story and fun animal education—it doesn’t get much better than that.If you’d like to check in on all the animal shenanigans happening at Potter Park, you can follow the zoo on Instagram here. With more than 350 residents of all sizes and species, there’s sure to be no shortage of wholesome critter content.