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Zoo prepares for World Binturong Day
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Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo Director Nicole Benz, right, introduces the Barton County Commissioners to Poppy, the zoos binturong, Monday morning. The zoo is observing World Binturong Day this Saturday with a fundraiser to build Poppy a new enclosure. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

About binturongs

The binturong is sometimes called a bearcat, although it is neither bear nor cat. The nickname comes from the way it walks – applying the entire sole of its foot on the ground, like a bear. (Dogs and cats actually walk on their toes.) On the other hand, its jaw and head are similar to a cat. A binturong has a long, muscular prehensile tail for grasping branches and maintaining balance. Binturongs smell like buttered popcorn, which is why fans of Brit Spaugh Zoo voted to name this binturong Poppy.

Starting on Memorial Day, May 25, the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo will remain open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The extended hours will continue through Labor Day.

Poppy, the 6-month-old binturong at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo, made an appearance at Monday’s Barton County Commission meeting. Zoo Director Nicole Benz said this Saturday, May 9, is World Binturong Day.

A binturong is a medium sized carnivore that is found inhabiting the dense forests of South-East Asia. They belong to the same family as smaller carnivores including civets and mongooses.

Although they are fairly common in captivity, they are now a critically endangered species in the wild, Benz said.
The Great Bend zoo will celebrate World Binturong Day with a fundraiser – a hog feed from 5-8 p.m. While admission to the zoo is free during normal hours (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily), admission to the after-hours hog feed is $8. The menu will include pulled pork, beans and coleslaw. Tickets are on sale at the zoo.

Money raised will be used to build Poppy a new enclosure at the zoo.
“Poppy’s going to be with us the next 20-25 years,” Benz said, explaining the need for her new home. The event is also meant to bring more community members into the zoo and to give them a fun, close-up view of Poppy, who has become a favorite among zoo staff and the public.
“She’s definitely become our little zoo superstar,” Benz said.