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PORTLAND, Oregon (COIN) — 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, a member of the raccoon family, was spotted at the Selah Creek rest area in Yakima, Washington.


Washington State Department of Transportation Eastern Office said The animal was rescued by the state Fish and Wildlife Service, but officials are still unsure if 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 the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, where staff quarantined him so veterinarians could conduct a “comprehensive health exam.”

“The survival of this young kinkajou is a testament to the cooperation between the state wildlife agency and the zoo and highlights the dangers of the illegal animal trade,” a zoo spokesman wrote on Facebook“Although kinkajous are not threatened with extinction, they are hunted for their fur, meat and for the exotic pet trade, threatening their wild population.”

According to the Oregon ZooKinkajous typically weigh up to 10 pounds and are 32 inches long. However, the Point Zoo said the small animals do not make good pets “despite their cuteness.”

The mammals, also known as “honey bears,” are normally found in tropical rainforests from southern Mexico to Brazil.

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