Researchers at the Smithsonian announced the discovery of a new species today, and it’s not the usual flower or insect. Instead, it’s the olinguito, an adorable teddy bear-like mammal that lives in the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia. At night, the animal leaps from tree to tree in the forest. And boy, it is ever cute!
Even the researchers seem smitten with the raccoon-sized species, which is the first carnivore species to be discovered in the Western Hemisphere in the past 35 years. “It looks kind of like a fuzzball … kind of like a cross between a teddy bear and a house cat,” said Kristofer Helgen, the Smithsonian’s curator of animals (talk about a dream job).
Most interestingly, researchers who went looking for the new species found it on the very first night they were in South America. They think there are thousands of olinguitos in the forests. But travelers: don’t expect to find one unless camping out in the middle of night is in the cards; these little guys are hard to spot unless you know exactly where to look.