Wednesday Zen Moment: Spot Otto the potto, Cincinatti Zoo’s newest baby critter

What’s a potto, you wonder?

We admit, here at Critter Files, we think we’re kinda the experts on all things critters but until now, we had never heard of a potto.

But we can see two-month-old Otto the potto if we go to the Cincinatti’s Zoo and Botanical Garden.

There are only five U.S. Zoos with pottos and seven of the 16 in captivity live at the Cincinatti Zoo.

Yeah, but what the heck is a potto?

Potto is the largest member of the lorisidae family. Lorises are their closest relatives. imgres

That’s a lorises on the right.

2016-02-11-Zoo-Baby-Potto-434-300x273Pottos are here on the left

Potto can be found in several African countries including Guinea, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. They’re primates who prefers life in dense tropical rainforests at the altitude of 1900 to 7500 feet.

Other than that, potto can be found in swamps, mountain forests and areas near the rivers.

When Otto the potto is grown, he may reach a length of 14 inches and weigh 1.8 to 3.5 pounds.

Since being born late last year, Otto the Cincinatti Zoo’s potto has been elusive.

“The baby has been hard to spot. It was about the size of a human thumb when it was born and also the same color as the mom’s chest, which is where Otto can be found most of the time,” said Mike Dulaney, Curator of Mammals. “Most potto moms park (a term used to describe leaving infants on a branch) their young in order to go off and feed on their own, but Mosi has been reluctant to leave her baby.”

And while Otto is the name, zoo officials are hedging their bets. The potto is clinging so much to mom that keepers haven’t been able to get close enough to determine the baby’s gender.

“Otto is good name whether it’s male or female. We chose the name to honor former board chairman and longtime Zoo supporter Otto M. Budig Jr.,” said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard.

The baby, large for its age, is starting to change color and will soon shift to a piggyback position. This should make it easier for visitors to see the new addition to Night Hunters.

Primates are generally categorized into three groupings—monkeys, apes, and prosimians. Typically thought to be more primitive than other primates, prosimians tend to be small and nocturnal. The big-eyed potto certainly fits the bill. Unlike other animals, pottos don’t make a nest when the baby is born – the baby clings to the mom and blends in with her belly.

Using clamp-shaped hands and feet, with opposable thumbs and big toes, the potto climbs slowly and carefully through the rainforest canopy, and rarely comes down from the trees.

If danger is near, the potto holds very still to blend in, and can hold its position for hours. If attacked, the potto tucks down its head and projects the bony processes between its shoulder blades that act as a shield. It can also inflict a nasty bite.

Potto can survive 11 years in the wild and up to 26 years in captivity.

h/t: Cincinatti Zoo


About the author

Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.