On June 6, we welcomed four new members to our fossa family, and I’m happy to report that fossa “Miles” has been an excellent first-time mother. For the first few weeks, she left the den box only to eat and drink. Fossa pups are born with their eyes closed, weighing just 3 to 4 ounces (about 100 grams). At first, mom moves her neonates by mouth. At about two to three weeks, their eyes open and they begin developing their motor skills. They typically spend most of their time in the den for the first few months, but the morning our pups turned six weeks old—as if on cue—two of the four left the den for the first time. Over the next week, all four pups began to venture out more and more, and their walking steadied.
The pups turned 12 weeks old on August 29, and are exploring their surroundings and climbing like adult fossas. They are even able to descend headfirst down vertical perches—although Miles doesn’t let them venture too high. It’s visibly becoming more difficult for mom to keep her four pups in the den box, but she’s doing a great job, and we are really proud of her.
Fossas are unique carnivores from Madagascar, where they are equally at home in the trees and on land, and they can be active day or night. All four pups appear to have different personalities at this point. One is adventurous, one shy, one more vocal, and one is lighter in color. We keepers are really enjoying watching our new pups learn how to be fossas!
We are excited to share our news with you, but ask your patience, as the little guys are still too young to be on exhibit. Once they are older and can safely navigate a more complex space, they will be able to graduate to an exhibit where you can see them, too. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy these pictures!
UPDATE: The fossa pups can now be seen in the Madagascar habitat at Africa Rocks.
Lacy Pearson is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo.