Cute Pictures: Baby Olinguito Found in Colombia

What’s better than discovering a rare, furry carnivore that resembles a teddy bear? Stumbling upon a baby version of the same creature.

A baby olinguito found recently in Colombia. Photograph by Juan Rendon

Scientists trekking deep in Colombia‘s La Mesenia Reserve Forest recently spotted a young olinguito, a mammal that was just confirmed as a new species in August. Scientists say it is the first new carnivore found in the Western Hemisphere in more than three decades.

The newfound baby olinguito, discovered by members of the conservation group SavingSpecies, is about the size of a kitten, so small that it can be grasped in one hand. Photographs of the young creature reveal tiny, curved claws that are useful for climbing trees and textured foot pads that help it grip branches.

While only recently designated as a new species, olinguitos have been hiding in plain sight for a long time. Specimens of the orange-brown creature have been housed in museums for more than a century, mistakenly identified as members of a related group of tree-dwelling mammals known as olingos. (Also see New Carnivore Revealed: Photos of the Olinguito and Its Kin.”)

An olinguito misidentified as an olingo even lived in U.S. zoos in the 1960s and 1970s, moving frequently because—not surprisingly—the animal wouldn’t breed with olingos, said Kristofer Helgen, a curator of mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and a National Geographic emerging explorer.

baby olinguito closeup picture
A closeup of the baby olinguito. Photo by Juan Rendon

It wasn’t until 2006 that a team led by Helgen got their first glimpse of live olinguitos in western Ecuador‘s Otanga Cloud Forest Preserve.

Later genetic analysis revealed that olinguitos are not only different from olingos, but also that there are actually four subspecies of olinguitos in existence.

Unlike some other newly discovered species, the olinguito does not appear to be at risk of extinction any time soon. “Hearteningly, it’s not an extremely endangered species,” Helgen told National Geographic.

Scientists estimate that there are probably thousands of the incredibly cute creatures living in the protected mountain habitats of Colombia and Ecuador.

“The age of discovery is not over,” Helgen said.

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Christine Dell'Amore, environment writer/editor for National Geographic News, has reported from six continents, including Antarctica. She has also written for Smithsonian magazine and the Washington Post. Christine holds a masters degree in journalism with a specialty in environmental reporting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her book, South Pole, was published in 2012.
  • MJ

    They are adorably cute … sadly, I wonder how long it will be before someone tries to make a pet out of one … I hope they stay wild!

  • thomas a scott jr

    Beautiful animal. The lives of all the different animals are so interesting. We sit at the top of them all ……and still haven’t learned how to treat each other.

  • Nathalia D

    Amo mi país y su biodiversidad. ¡Que animalito más hermoso! 🙂 Ojalá nunca se encuentre en peligro.

  • mari

    such a cutie
    time to make money
    mass produce


    beautiful animal, and i love so much small wild animal sooooooooooooooo cute pics

  • Brenda Kim

    I agree to my previous comments.
    We should know how important to reserve the MOther Nature as it is~ LET. IT. BE.

  • km

    couldn’t be any more precious



  • robin ac

    this only shows that we no so little about the planet we are on- yet another stunning creature from God. looks like a cross between a cat and a bear.

  • Archel

    pls preserve them and dont exploit them.

  • CB

    Cute in those pics, but look at the others…. That “Little Cutie” will rip your face off…

  • Astral Spirit

    Yes, this is a cousin of Bats, 🙂

  • L

    It bet it would make for a great pair of gloves or a nice dinner

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Hmm, disagree!

  • ankit khaitan

    WOw….Nature at its best…Preserve so cute animal…

  • Mary

    I hope I never see them as pets like the little h edge hogs

  • Diomande André

    Please, save these adorable pets, and keep them away from wild predators…

  • Kevin Penney

    Truly amazing that such a creature, in what appear to be sustainable numbers, could have been hiding in plain sight for so long.

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      It is amazing!

  • mz mo

    They r soooo cute

  • haj mamorno

    i hope it’s not too late to preserve wild life…humans should respect nature…maybe we should have a zoo for animal abusers or have them rebuild nature

  • gabriel

    Please sell me one of them!

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      They’re not for sale. Scientists are trying to learning as much as they can about them.

  • Fawn

    it is a relative of the raccoon family

  • Orla

    I’m going off to do zoology next year in university and I cannot wait!! It’s going to be so exciting!! I one day hop to do this kind of work =)

  • Margaret Register

    Such a cute baby olingo. Please keep them safe from extinction.

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      It’s actually an olinguito—related to the olingo.

  • MF

    Gift from god. Treasure from heaven!

  • mark jade tactacon

    i hope people will not get an interest on their fur. they are so cute!

  • Mary Thompson

    I hope they don’t get exploited in the pet trade! They are so sweet.Thanks for the wonderful photos…. so we can enjoy what we may never see for ourselves in the wild! You go National Geographic my fav. magazine!

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      You’re welcome!

  • shine

    Looks like a koala! So adorable 🙂

  • gideon Magee

    why all the big fuss about animals. we aught to save the human race from extincition. the animals have got more sense than us. they can well take care of them selves without our stupid “help” they have survived well enough for thousands of years. cept for dinosaurs, just as well they r exinct otherwise theyd be eating for dinner. i lived in ecuador , panama and peru and i see lots of these little monstritos –they are very nice to but not as pets –let em alone. unless they come to you and u get along ..thats different. bueno …eso es todo! anyone for tea! or perhaps some good colombian coffe!

  • andri

    Lovely animal

  • Siddhartha

    Is it a relative of the bear family?

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Nope, it’s in the raccoon family.

  • Tiphaine

    This article leaves me with more questions than answers. While the baby olinguito is ridiculously adorable, who is holding it? Why is someone picking up and touching a wild, baby animal? Where is this baby’s mother? What happened to it after you took the picture?

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Good questions, Tiphaine. You can leave comments on the SavingSpecies blog post that first released the pictures—I would pose these questions there.

  • sonia

    I hope we can keep it alive my country has a huge history for animal cruelty.

  • Casey

    Totally cute! Will there be an article on them in a Nat Geo soon? I would love to know more about them.

  • Reginald

    Great comments now lets protect the weeiest ones…what do they eat lizards and snakes? Prey or preditor or both? Good luck lil one.

  • Dori

    For their own sake, I’m genuinely sorry the species was discovered. My immediate response was, “Oooo, I want one!”– and as an environmentalist, I DO know better. Unfortunately, my guess is that some of the other commenters are correct– there will be people who try to sell these darling creatures on the black market as pets.

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Good point Dori.

  • Cameron Andreas

    I want one! I really, really, really do. So bad. 🙁 heh.

  • alisha

    awww I want one soo cute!

  • Fish

    Those poor little guys in the zoos in the 1960’s left scientists asking, “why won’t he hit that?” I’d be curious what they gave them to try and make the love happen! That would make a great story.

  • Maybelle

    Totally disagree Gideon Magee. The planet would be much better off if the human race went extinct. We are the worst thing that ever happened to this place – despite the good intentions of some of us.

  • edna

    are they harmful to humans?
    if yes,why?
    if no,why?

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Thanks Edna. Olinguitos are not harmful to people—they are tiny animals that mostly eat plants.

  • Mario Hernandez

    This little fella is so cute you just got to have one but, we must respect the laws of nature. I would like to know much more about this little guy. There must be a lot to learn. After all, it has survived a long time and even divided into four sub-species. Has this animal traveled? What are the defensive capabilities? What about it’s diet? Will we start seeing them at wild animal parks or zoos?

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Great questions, Mario. Keep an eye out for more stories about this species—there’s a lot more research being done about it as we speak.

  • D Mitchell

    I WANT ONE … PLEASE ????

  • Karen

    I see many people think of them as pets already. Please remember, they are wild, not domesticated animals. The sugar gliders were imported as pets. Very few vets no how to treat them when they get sick. Most die. Dead and sick pets are no fun. Sugar glider rescues get overwhelmed. Please don’t support pet trade in animals we know so little about.

  • 109

    They’re very cute! But they should totally NOT be seen as acceptable pets. Even if you’re responsible, others won’t be. They won’t stay babies forever. Some fraction of them would be dumped on the streets when they grew older. It’s just not worth it, to do that to them, and to give others the opportunity to do that to them. Adopt a rescue cat or dog instead.

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Well said

  • Rachel

    They mostly eat plants? – but the article says they’re carnivores. /confused/

    Did I mislearn the definition of carnivore?

    They’re omnivores if they “mostly eat plants” no?

    I remember the news about the discovery of this ‘new’ animal a while back and the whole having one in the zoos and it not mating. LOL had to laugh at that one. “Yes…I’m picky would YOU mate with a monkey? Didn’t think so.” -poor zoo’d Olinguito…

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Thanks Rachel! I get this question a lot when I write about olinguitos. An animal can be in the taxonomic order Carnivora but not necessarily be a meat-eater. It sounds weird, I know, but think about the giant panda—it’s considered a carnivore but it only eats bamboo.

      I agree that poor zoo olingo was probably pretty frustrated at repeatedly being put in the cage with other species it wasn’t attracted to!

  • kane catherine

    bande de nazes vous me dégoutez ” j’en veux un” ouinouin; de vrais gosses ! mais pour qui vous prenez-vous? la planète ne vous appartient pas. Vous n’êtes que des égoïstes trop gatés. J’espère que JAMAIS vous ne
    pourrez vous en procurer un. JA-MAIS

  • Priceless Joy

    I just LOVE this little guy!

  • Annie Scott

    What happened to this particular baby? Was it collected by the scientists or left alone so that its mother could return to it?

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Good question Annie. I believe that the scientists left the baby with its mother, although I can’t be sure. You should leave a comment on the SavingSpecies website and ask.

  • jackie

    these are very cute… and I agree, wild animals should stay in the wild where they belong…but, it would be pretty cool for a zoo to be able to set designated times for kids to have one on one encounters with species like these to help them learn and get them excited about the nature and animals God has given us to admire, provided the species can endure one on one sessions with a group of course. Maybe even a quick soft rub of the fur?

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Interesting idea, Jackie. Actually at the press conference that announced the olinguito’s discovery back in August, the scientist allowed journalists to feel fur from an olinguito skin.

  • Brenda Anna

    “An animal can be in the taxonomic order Carnivora but not necessarily be a meat-eater.”

    How interesting! Does this mean that the animal could have been a meat-eater at some stage of its evolutionary cycle, but has adapted its diet for one reason or another?

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Brenda Anna, I don’t think so, I think it’s just that most carnivores tend to be meat-eaters, but there are some species, like the olinguito, that eat mostly plants.

  • Mysti Blu

    it will be so very NICE OF A CHANGE to have this adorable
    yet wild little critter continue to have a natural habitat to thrive within…

  • jen

    Does it Snuggle? would it eat my pets? & please let us know what the mom looks like & if they were reunited!? did you leave it in the Wild? Blessings Peace42014

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Jen, Since it’s a wild animal, I doubt it would snuggle. As far as the scientists know it doesn’t eat animals like pets. I’m not sure exactly, but I imagine the scientists that found this baby would have left it with its mother after examining it.


    Definitely keep those little guys in the wild. We have enough domestic animals in shelters needing homes. If you want a pet, grab one of them! For one thing, they’re already pre-disposed to living with humans & would not have to learn how to live in a house or apartment.

  • Donna Tanner

    Let’s not all rush out and make these the latest pet craze!

  • Blogengeezer

    At what point does an animal that climbs trees easily, eats vegetation, eat Eggs? Likely a carnivore, variation of the eggs, some are not yet feathered in development? Is that a carnivore or only an omnivore? Opportunistic Bears eat anything, as most dogs (ours ate Apples), even fussy cats can chow down on veggies from time to time.

  • Ally

    The people must save this species and we don’t kill for fun or money. everything the animals are alive and that They don´t be things, they are feeling and breathing with every people in the world

  • mary

    Lets hope man will keep his hands off this species. But greed is one of man’s deadly sins. God’s first and only mistake—HUMANS.

  • Jenny Brotherton

    I saw pictures of the adults found in a recent Smithsonian article and thought they were sooooo cute.
    I agree with not having them as pets. It is wrong on so many accounts.
    I make teddy bears and soft toys for fun and I am giving this critter a go! I have finished the head and body so far. Thanks for the more detailed photo of the claws. It is exactly what I wanted!

  • Lissie

    these animals are sooooooooooo cute!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mike

    Interesting! I hope that everyone has a great and safe weekend! A very cute animal. I hope that it is around for a very long time.

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Me too!

  • Aigars Elss

    Nice creature!!!

  • kawtar

    سبحان الله

  • Nelson Akpese

    So how would you think or reason about or picture in MIND if you put that or the eye of Baby Oblingua in place of Human eyes or if fixed in the place of Human eye. Would picture or think the that Human or Human Being think better than Men or Women or as he was with the Human eye. Would she or He look more Beautiful.I mena Human beingsa re looking more beautiful and in knowleged and thing with the Eye only. So are animals and Birds and Plants or Parts of them if fixed to Human Beings Place it fits as made for the Eyes. So will see Plants Animals and others like birds and Fishes more intelligent than Human beings on Earth and after death even. Their KNOWledge is better than Human Beings only that they don’t think or think about it to know or use for sometime and you don’t detect it. Intelligent is or will be High because they act well and with no mistake

  • Katherine Woo

    Please try to protect them and assist them to grow up in their joyful life style…


    oh my God !you are so great!

  • Reem Al-ahli

    OMG its so cute and i really love your pictures and your work
    Christine Dell’Amore

  • Hugh Vincelette

    I have a suggestion for those who would love to have on of these cuties for a pet, but know you can’t. One of the comments following the article is from a Jenny Brotherton , of Melbourne , Australia. In her message she says she makes teddy bears & soft toys for fun & is trying to make a baby olinguito. I think that is really cool !! Maybe you could try to contact her & have one made & sent to where ever……
    You’d never have to feel guilty about taking it out of its habitat & away from family. ( It gives a whole new meaning to “CUTE”.)

  • Déborah

    The level of consumerism of some people never ceases to amaze me. I recoil at the many posts of “I want…” !!!
    It’s a WILD animal, people. It belongs in the WILD, not in anybody’s home, or even worse, in a cage in some dark forgotten corner of your patios…
    Qué gente más rara.

  • Nicolas

    Of course that little creature is cute. However a baby cat is as cute if not cuter… And we are living with cats for many thousands years now. If you want an Olinguito, adopt a cat. They are used to us and incredibely smart and unique…

  • Wendy culpepper

    Absolutely adorable!! I wish he was domestic, I love animals!!

  • Ray

    I too think they are cute, but notice that most of the “cute” comments are from females. Maternal instinct. Thanks for posting the pic, we can all enjoy it.

  • Zara

    this is the cutest animal in the history of planet earth!!!!!

  • Zara

    The most adorable animals ever!!! 🙂

  • Zara

    🙂 🙁 ;0

  • Angelina


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