East and south of the Sierra Madres in Mexico, throughout Central America to Bolivia east of the Andes and the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil.


Varies from mature tropical forests to heavily disturbed and secondary forests


Kinkajou are in the raccoon family, but are the only member with a prehensile tail. They use their tails to grasp when climbing and to hang while eating. They carry their young upside down on their bellies. They are frugivorous (fruit eating), but are classified as carnivores. They use their long tongue to get the nectar out of the flowers.

The kinkajou's woolly fur consists of an outer coat of gold (or brownish-gray) overlapping a gray undercoat. It has large eyes and small ears. It also has short legs with five toes on each foot and sharp claws.


Kinkajous spent most of their life in trees, to which they are particularly well adapted. Like raccoons, kinkajous' remarkable manipulatory abilities rival those of primates. The kinkajou has a short-haired, fully prehensile tail (like some New World monkeys), which it uses as a "fifth hand" in climbing. It does not use its tail for grasping food. It can rotate its ankles and feet by a half turn, making it easy for the animal to run backwards over tree limbs and climb down trees headfirst. Scent glands near the mouth, on the throat, and on the belly allow kinkajous to mark their territory and their travel routes. Kinkajous sleep in family units and groom one another.

A nocturnal animal, the kinkajou's peak activity is usually between about 7:00 PM and midnight, and again an hour before dawn. During daylight hours, kinkajous sleep in tree hollows or in shaded tangles of leaves, avoiding direct sunlight.


Their gestation period is 4-months which they give birth to one pup (very rarely two).

Interesting Facts:

Kinkajous are sometimes called honey bears because they raid bees' nests. They use their long, skinny tongues to slurp honey from a hive, and also to remove insects like termites from their nests.


Although kinkajous are not an endangered species, poachers hunt them for fur and meat or for the exotic pet trade, threatening their numbers. Because they are wild animals, kinkajous do not make good pets, no matter how cute you might think they are! Kinkajous have a painful bite and can be destructive to a home in the middle of the night, when they are most active.

Did YOU Know?    
A kinkajou's hearing is sharp enough to detect the movement of a snake.
Class: mammals
Order: Carnivora
Family: Procyonidae
Genus: Potos
Species: flavus
Length: 17-22 inches
Height: 17 - 22 inches
Weight: 2-3 kg
Average Lifespan: 20 to 25 years
Wild Diet: Nectar, fruits, flowers ans sometimes small frogs and bird eggs
Zoo Diet: Fruit, vegetables, greens/celery, primate diet, primate maintenance buscuits
Predators: Tayra, fox, jagarundi, ocelot, margay, humans
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building

Learn more about mammals or animals from South America!
Or, cross-reference the two!