Talk about right under your nose. The National Zoo in Washington has long had specimens of an adorable creature which they thought was an Olingo. But more detailed biological investigation has revealed it is a brand new species: The Olinguito

“It’s been kind of hiding in plain sight for a long time” despite its extraordinary beauty, said Kristofer Helgen, the Smithsonian’s curator of mammals.

The zoo’s little critter, named Ringerl, was mistaken for a sister species, the olingo. Ringerl was shipped from zoo to zoo from 1967 to 1976: Louisville, Ky., Tucson, Ariz., Salt Lake City, Washington and New York City to try to get it to breed with other olingos.

It wouldn’t.

“It turns out she wasn’t fussy,” Helgen said. “She wasn’t the right species.”

A sort of adorable cat/bear/racoon-y type creature with cunning little hands, the Olinguito is a member of the Procyonidae family of the Carnivore order. This family including Raccoons (RACCOOONS ARE HOTTTTTTT), coatimundis, kinkajous, ringtails and the sweet little cacomistle of PAnama. This family is a-burstin’ with adorable little critters that you want to pick up and cuddle. But don’t because they are carnivores and can chomp right through bones—and fingers.

The olinguito is the first new carnivorous mammal species to be found in the Americas in 35 years. Despite all that we think we know, nature is even more unknowable.


  1. So you’re saying they won’t make great pets??

    What about ferrets? When I was a tyke, I once befriended a little ferret that followed me home from the Jersey City Reservoir from one day playing after school. Everyone wanted to shoot it dead because no one had ever seen one before and told me to take it back where it came from. Eventually, I complied, but he was so cute and when I fed him he showed his appreciation by running up my back and nibbled at the base of my neck.

    I think back to that day and I ask myself – I must have been off my nut back then- because no way would I ever do something as remotely that stupid to this day. I could have gotten rabies!

    Although a couple of months back I got real pissed off at some lady trying to run over a coyote with her car in my neighborhood and I gave her a mouthful of what I thought about her poor little cats being in danger – TAKE THEM IN AT NIGHT if you don’ them eaten by coyotes was the only thing coherent that came out of mouth that wasn’t riddled with profanity.

    And I still find squirrels fascinating. They’re great at backflips



  2. For you New Yorkers, be careful around Central Park at night… there are raccoons living there.

    Too bad exotics are banned in NYC. Ringtails would make the perfect apartment dweller!

  3. ~chris, actually while I was researching this I found several articles about the Olingo on Cryptozoologist sites so, to put it in technical terms, NYAH NYAH NYAH.

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