If you stop by the white-faced saki habitat near the entrance of Rainforest Revealed, you may spot an unfamiliar face. That face belongs to Chica, the kinkajou! While Chica is not new to the Zoo (in fact, quite the opposite), she is new to this habitat.
Chica is 21 years old and has lived at the Zoo since 2003! You may be asking yourself, “Why haven’t I seen her before?” The reason is that she has lived in a behind-the-scenes habitat for the past 19 years. Kinkajous are nocturnal, meaning they are primarily asleep during the day and awake at night. Chica was rotated into specific habitats overnight over the years, but because of her sleep schedule, it made sense for her to live in a behind-the-scenes area.
Our animal care team recently decided to give her an even better living space. This new area provides Chica with a complex space, including features like overhead tunnel systems, two habitats to choose from and a building to enter should she so choose. These options allow her the opportunity to engage in all appropriate behaviors for her species.
Chica’s keepers report that she is doing great in this new habitat, and camera footage has shown her climbing all around and exploring at night! Initially, the saki monkeys were inquisitive with their new roommate, but all parties respected one another’s space and are settling in well.
While previous keepers described Chica as a “sour patch – both sweet and sour,” current keeper Michele Quinn said, “I think she’s only sweet!”
“Because she’s nocturnal, Chica spends the majority (if not the entirety) of the time we are here sleeping in her shelter box,” said Michele. “However, when she hears keeper moving around, she will stick her head out wanting head scratches!”
They may look a bit like primates, but kinkajous are actually members of the family Procyonidae, which includes coatis and raccoons. In their natural range, members of this species live in the tropical rainforests from southern Mexico through Brazil. Kinkajous are not endangered, but they are still at risk due to hunting and the exotic pet trade.
Although unlikely, there is still a chance you may spot Chica on your visit to the Zoo. If you see keepers in her habitat, you may be able to catch her poking her head out. “If you do get to see her, you are in for a special treat!” said Michele.
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.