Olinguito: more than a furry face

Just when you thought it was safe to presume we knew everything about wildlife, scientists have gone and discovered a new species of carnivore. The olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) is a two-pound, large-eyed and furry creature found in the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador.
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Since this week’s announcement, all kinds of photos have been shared – olinguitos are, after all, quite adorable. But when we saw the news, more than anything, we felt hope.

Kristofer Helgen, leader of the team that is publishing their findings, succinctly described the impact that we felt.

“The discovery of the olinguito shows us that the world is not yet completely explored, its most basic secrets not yet revealed,” said Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “If new carnivores can still be found, what other surprises await us? So many of the world’s species are not yet known to science. Documenting them is the first step toward understanding the full richness and diversity of life on Earth.”

Our new friend the olinguito is not just a fur-bearing species that is worthy of our protection; the olinguito is a sign that despite the travesties we have wreaked on the planet, nature can continue to surprise us. The olinguito is a reminder that this beautiful world is worth protecting.

Photo by Mark Gurney/National Museum of History

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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