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April 24, 2024

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New Babies at Nashville Zoo’s Vet Center

Nashville Zoo has a full house in the neonatal rooms at its HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center! Two cotton-top tamarins, a giant anteater, two caracal kittens, a Palawan binturong, and a banded palm civet have all been born this fall and can be seen in the neonatal care rooms at the Zoo’s Veterinary Center.

Guests can stop by the nursery window at the Zoo’s Veterinary Center to see all the cuteness. The public can also see the caracal kittens through the News2 Nursery Cam or on Nashville Zoo’s website. Stay updated on these babies and more via Nashville Zoo’s social media.

Cotton-Top Tamarins

Two cotton-top tamarins babies were born on November 2, 2021, to 8-year-old Caqueta (mom) and 16-year-old Pancho (dad).

This is Caqueta’s third set of infants. Nashville Zoo now has five cotton-top tamarins in their care including the two babies. Cotton-top tamarins have been on exhibit at Nashville Zoo since 2018 when Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear opened. These babies will stay at Nashville Zoo for at least two years and eventually go to other zoos to be a part of their breeding programs.


Nashville Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of a healthy male giant anteater. The pup was born on October 20, 2021, weighing just over two pounds and measuring just under two feet long from head to tail.

At two weeks old, the pup spends most of its time tucked under the tail of his sleeping mom. He will stay with mom at Nashville Zoo for at least a year. Since 2001, 21 giant anteaters have been born at Nashville Zoo’s off-exhibit breeding facility. Including the pup, the Zoo now has 11 giant anteaters in their care.

Giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) are native to the wetlands, grasslands, and tropical forests from Central to South America. Distinctive characteristics of this species include their two-foot-long tongue coated with sticky saliva, heightened sense of smell, and that they have no teeth.


Two caracal kittens were born at the Zoo last Sunday, October 17, to a pair of caracals that live behind the scenes here at the Zoo. The kittens are being hand-reared by the Zoo’s veterinary team.

Nashville Zoo is now home to eight caracals. Two breeding pairs live behind the scenes, and two male caracals (Zain and Samir) are a part of the Zoo’s ambassador animal program. Zain and Samir can sometimes be seen on the Zoo’s guest pathways or during the Zoo’s Wild Works Animal Shows.

Caracals (Caracal caracals) are native across Africa and the Middle East to India. The most notable feature of this species is their black ear tufts. Caracals are extremely agile and can jump nine feet straight up to catch flying birds. While caracals are not considered endangered, their habitats are threatened by human development.


Our male Palawan binturong kit is just over three weeks old and is being hand-reared by the Zoo’s veterinary team. He recently graduated from the incubator to the playpen. This kit was born to a pair of binturongs that live behind the scenes here at the Zoo. One of the defining characteristics of binturongs is that their urine smells like buttered popcorn.

Binturongs are sometimes called bearcats, even though they are not related to bears or cats. This subspecies faces a conservation challenge due to the destruction of habitat and pet trade. Nashville Zoo participates in the Palawan Binturong Species Survival Plan (SSP), an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) program to maintain healthy and self-sustaining captive populations.

Palawan binturongs (Arctictis binturong whitei) are categorized as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are large nocturnal mammals native to the forests of Southeast Asia.


Vinnie, the male banded palm civet, is almost two months old now. He was born to a pair of civets living behind the scenes. Vinnie is being hand-reared by the Zoo’s veterinary team and in the past couple of weeks has transitioned from milk to soft foods.

Civets are nocturnal, so Vinnie spends most of his day napping. He is almost fully weaned, and our hope is that Vinnie will become an ambassador animal here at the Zoo.

Banded palm civets (Hemigalus derbyanus) are categorized as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are native to the rainforests and jungle of Southeast Asia.


About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.