AboutZoos, Since 2008


First ever fossa birth at Den­ver Zoo

pub­lished 26 Octo­ber 2014 | mod­i­fied 26 Octo­ber 2014

Den­ver Zoo is cel­e­brat­ing the birth of its very first fossa pup, born on July 28. The male pup, named Rico, has stayed behind the scenes for the last cou­ple months under the watch­ful eye of his mother, who is prov­ing to be an excel­lent first-​time mom. Rico is now slowly gain­ing more mobil­ity, though, and zookeep­ers just removed the boards in front of their indoor habi­tat. Guests may see him as he attempts to leave his nest box inside the Zoo’s Feline Build­ing, though fos­sas are not felines.

Fossa pup DenverZooThe pup’s mother, Vio­let, was born at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in June 2010 and arrived at Den­ver Zoo in April 2012. Its father, Dorian, was the very first fossa to live at Den­ver Zoo, arriv­ing in Feb­ru­ary 2010 from Utah’s Hogle Zoo, but born at the San Diego Zoo in 2006. The two were paired in early June this year when Vio­let was mature enough to breed. For­tu­nately, the cou­ple has proved to be an excel­lent match.

Fos­sas almost resem­ble small pumas, but their clos­est rel­a­tive is actu­ally the mon­goose. They have short, brown coats. Adults stand about 20 cen­time­tres tall at the shoul­der and can stretch about 0.75 metres from head to back­side. Their tails can be just as long and pro­vide good bal­ance when nav­i­gat­ing though trees while hunt­ing for prey. Their teeth, jaws and par­tially retractable claws resem­ble those of a cat, but their agility has been described as almost primate-​like. They can hang upside down and quickly climb to the top of a tree.

Even though it may only weigh about 10 kg, the fossa (Cryp­to­procta ferox) is the largest mam­malian car­ni­vore on Mada­gas­car. Roughly half its diet con­sists of lemurs, but fos­sas also eat lizards, birds and smaller live­stock. Fos­sas are cath­e­meral, mean­ing they are active and look­ing for prey at any part of the day or night, depend­ing on mood and food availability.

Video with con­cise infor­ma­tion about the fossa:

(Source: World Press Media YouTube channel)

Fos­sas in the wild
Fos­sas are only to be found in Mada­gas­car. Accord­ing to the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species™ the fossa’s con­ser­va­tion sta­tus in the wild is Vul­ner­a­ble with an esti­mated pop­u­la­tion size of less than 2,500 indi­vid­u­als. Experts are uncer­tain about this num­ber due to a lack of sight­ings, mainly caused by the fossa being a soli­tary species in gen­eral that is found at low pop­u­la­tion den­si­ties. Their major threats come from habi­tat loss and hunt­ing which may have led to a pop­u­la­tion reduc­tion exceed­ing 30% (and pos­si­bly much higher) over the course of the last 21 years (three generations).

(Source: Den­ver Zoo press release, 25.09.2014; IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species™)

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