When an animal’s species is being threatened with extinction, a new birth is always exciting. Last month, the Nashville Zoo welcomed a baby banded palm civet (Hemigalus derbyanus). The zoo’s breeding program is the only one of its kind. For now, the civets aren’t on display; the zoo is just trying to boost their population.
Despite their slightly feline appearance, banded palm civets are more closely related to weasels and skunks than they are to cats. They live in the forests of Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Malaysia, and can reach up to about six and a half pounds. They’re good climbers and prefer to hunt their insect prey at night. The species is listed as "Vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources's Red List.
Image Credit: Nashville Zoo
Not much is known about H. derbyanus. The little carnivores are hard to find, even in areas where they are known to live. The greatest threat to this species is habitat destruction. Scientists believe that H. derbyanus can only live in the forest, but the forests are disappearing fast. Aside from preserving the environment, captive breeding programs like the Nashville Zoo’s may be the best way to help keep these critters around.
The civet kitten is being raised by his parents behind the scenes. Including the baby, the zoo now has four male and four female civets.