Get a whiff of this! Popcorn-scented duo arrive at the zoo


Two elusive creatures are buttering up visitors to Melbourne Zoo with their unique scent and shaggy style.

Binturongs Bhalu and Tugu are a sight to behold with their cat-like faces, bear paws, prehensile tails and – _a natural scent that smells just like freshly buttered popcorn!

Melbourne Zoo’s carnivores and ungulates life sciences manager Laura Weiner (pronounced: wine-er) said lucky visitors will be able to see and smell the two male Binturong as they explore their new habitat.

“Binturong are nocturnal so if you come to our after-dark experience – Roar n’ Snore – you’ll be able to see 10-year-old Bhalu and 9-year-old Tugu climbing the trees, gripping onto branches with their tail and foraging for food,” Ms Weiner said.

“During the day they may be sleeping but you’ll still be able to smell that butter popcorn scent that comes from glands underneath their tail used to mark their territory.”

Often called “bearcats” due to their appearance, Binturong eat a varied diet of fruits, insects, small mammals, and fish.

Although shy, they are a vocal species and make a chuckling or purring sound when they are happy and a high-pitched wail or hiss when they are challenged.

“Binturong are excellent climbers due to their hind legs which can rotate backwards and a prehensile tail which they can hang from,” Ms Weiner said. •

“Their habitat here at Melbourne Zoo has lots of high trees, ropes and platforms, so it’s fascinating to observe them exploring their new space.”

Binturongs are found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. The species is listed as Vulnerable by the ICUN Red List due to habitat destruction and illegal pet trade.

Visitors can see the Binturong along Melbourne Zoo’s Lion Gorge trail or spend a night at the Zoo with a Roar n’ Snore experience to catch them at their most active.

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