Layla the binturong

Okay, we know we’re always saying that our animals are something special. But the little lady that we’re about to introduce you to now really is something very special indeed!

Layla is a binturong! Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of a binturong before, because they’re actually quite rare and secretive animals. Binturongs are also called bearcats sometimes, because they have a cat-like face, with the body and tufty, round ears of a bear! They could also say they have the tail of a monkey, too – because their enormous tails are prehensile, just like our kinkajous’ tails are! You might think that the combination of all those animals would result in a very strange looking creature, but we think that Layla is stunningly beautiful just the way she is!

Binturongs like Layla are native to southern Asia, and spend their lives in the tall trees of the forests there. In fact, they rarely venture down to the ground at all – they even sleep all curled up high in the forest canopy! Binturongs are amazingly gifted climbers. They move slowly, but their legs, feet and claws are incredibly strong, allowing them to scale those trees with ease. That special prehensile tail makes gripping onto all those branches pretty easy for these guys too!

As far as their diet goes, binturongs are classed as omnivores, just like raccoons! In the wild, they eat everything from small mammals, birds and fish to eggs, insects and fruit. In fact, there are some fruits that depend on these creatures to thrive – this is because binturongs disperse seeds from the fruits they eat in their droppings as they move about the forest! The strangler fig, for example, wouldn’t even exist without the binturong, as they have the very rare ability to digest and break down the tough outer covering of the seed. Binturongs are so helpful!

One more fun fact about binturongs, which you’ll probably notice as soon as you meet Layla – they smell just like popcorn! Like many animals, binturongs have scent glands just under their tails, and for some reason our silly human noses interpret the scent they emit as distinctly popcorn-y! In the wild, binturongs use this scent to mark their territory, and to find members of the opposite sex.

We’ve had the most wonderful experience with our binturongs. Even in the wild these creatures aren’t predatory at all, and spend their quiet lives keeping themselves to themselves amongst the treetops. We’ve found them to be nothing but gentle, sweet and playful – they really don’t have a mean bone in their bodies! Our male binturong, Grizz (who does not attend encounters!) is very large, and some people are alarmed or overwhelmed by the sheer size of him. And though she’s only young at the moment, Layla, as a female, will grow to around 20% larger than him! But it just means there’s more of them to love, and these creatures really are the very definition of gentle giants. We just know that once you meet Layla you’ll adore binturongs just as much as we do!