Thursday, July 23, 2015

Zookeeper Appreciation Week: Cute as a Coati

Thursday's zookeeper of the week is Melanie Czajkowski who is about to celebrate her first year as a zookeeper at Wildwood Wildlife Park. To commemorate National Zookeeper Week, Melanie has selected as her favorite park resident the coatimundi.

The coatimundi or coati is a medium-sized mammal found only in North and South America and are members of the raccoon family.  Coatis have a slender head and as you can see, a slightly turned-up nose. This feature is part of the reason why it is given the nickname 'the hog-nose raccoon.' Additionally they have a very long tail and often hold the tail erect; using it as a way of keeping troops of coatis together while walking or foraging in tall vegetation. The tip of the coatis tail can be moved slightly, just like a cat.

Coatis are active day and night and feeds on lizards, fruits, nuts and seeds, insects, birds eggs, rodents and small reptiles. A forest dweller and an agile tree climber when the coatis is on the ground, its short forelegs give it a bearlike gait.

Females and their young travel in bands but males are solitary. Males join the band only during the mating season, typically at the start of the rainy season, when there is an abundance of food. When the female is ready to give birth she will leave the band of coatis to build a nest in the trees or on a rocky ledge, where she will give birth to 2-7 kits. The female and her young will rejoin the band when they are about 6 weeks old. 

Coatis communication using chirping, snorting, or grunting sounds. The also use postures to convey simple messages. In her photo Melanie has chosen a favorite posture of our one-year old coatis: the adorably cute tactic of begging the zookeepers for their favorite food of grapes and mealworms.

Thank you Melanie for sharing your love of animals and for highlighting the coatimundi.

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