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Exotic mammal native to Central and South America spotted at Washington rest stop

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An exotic mammal native to Central and South America somehow ended up on the streets of the Pacific Northwest.

On Sunday, June 23, a kinkajou — an animal in the same family as raccoons — was spotted at the Selah Creek rest area in Yakima, Washington.

Washington State Department of Transportation’s Eastern office said the creature was rescued by the state fish and wildlife department, but officials still aren’t sure whether it escaped or was abandoned.

Kinkajou spotted at Selah Creek rest area in Yakima
Kinkajou spotted at Selah Creek rest area in Yakima (Washington State Department of Transportation East)

The kinkajou is now being held at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, where staff quarantined it so veterinarians could conduct a “comprehensive wellness exam.”

“This young kinkajou’s survival is a testament to the collaborative efforts of state wildlife law enforcement and the Zoo, highlighting the dangers of the illegal pet trade,” a zoo spokesperson wrote on Facebook. “While kinkajous are not endangered, they are hunted for fur, meat, and the exotic pet trade, threatening their wild population.”

According to the Oregon Zoo, kinkajous typically weigh up to 10 pounds and measure at 32 inches long. However, the Point Zoo said the small animals do not make a good pet “despite their cuteness.”

The mammals — also referred to as “honey bears” — are usually found in tropical rainforests from southern Mexico to Brazil.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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