Teddy Bear + Housecat = My New Pet

Olinguito New Pet

Cuteness alert! Smithsonian scientists have discovered a new carnivorous mammal, and it is suuuper cute.

Dubbed the olinguito (oh-lin-GHEE-toe), the new mammal is a relative of the raccoon family. The Smithsonian press release describes the 2-pound animal’s appearance as “a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear.” Love it.

The cat teddy bear lives in the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia in South America and is the first new carnivore species to be found in the Americas in 35 years. It’s thought that an olinguito was exhibited in several zoos in the US between 1967 and 1976 but it was misclassified and no one could figure out why it wasn’t bredding with the other animals. Now they know why – olinguitos only like other olinguitos.

But don’t get too attached – the olinguito may be already be a threatened species thanks to the tear down of cloud forests.

“The cloud forests of the Andes are a world unto themselves, filled with many species found nowhere else, many of them threatened or endangered,” Kristofer Helgen, lead researcher on the discovery and curator of mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, said in the release. “We hope that the olinguito can serve as an ambassador species for the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia, to bring the world’s attention to these critical habitats.”

Either way, I know what the cats are getting for Christmas this year!

Via: The Smithsonian 

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