Olingo

Olingo

[oh-ling-goh]

Olingos are small procyonids that comprise the genus Bassaricyon, native to the rainforests of Central and South America from Nicaragua to Peru. They are arboreal and nocturnal, and live at elevations from sea level to 2,000 m. Olingos closely resemble the kinkajou in morphology and habits, though they lack prehensile tails and extrudable tongues, have more extended muzzles, and possess an anal scent gland. Genetic studies have shown that the closest relatives of the olingos are actually the coatis. The similarities between kinkajous and olingos are thus an example of parallel evolution.

The status of the various olingos is disputed: only the Bushy-tailed Olingo (Bassaricyon gabbii) is particularly well-known; the other species of olingos may prove to be only subspecies of it. Olingos are quite rare in zoos and are often misidentified as kinkajous.

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