The newest arrivals in Singapore Zoo are a bit of an enigma. The fossa looks like a cat, a dog, and a mongoose all at once. Moreover, fossas are the only animal where the adolescent female undergoes a developmental stage known as transient masculinisation which renders her temporarily masculine.

With a cat-like head, short, dog-like muzzle and ears, coupled with a slender body and muscular limbs, the animal is famously portrayed as the ruthless and not-so-bright antagonists in the animated movie Madagascar. In truth, fossas are intelligent, graceful and well-deserving of their title as Madagascar’s apex predators.

As solitary animals by nature, the two fossas, 9-year-old female Varus and 5-year-old male Kabibi will share their new exhibit in Singapore Zoo on a rotational basis. Guests visiting Varus and Kabibi can look forward to daily interactive sessions with the fossa carers.

Kabibi, Singapore Zoo’s five-year-old female fossa eating in her den. Compared to Varus the male fossa, Kabibi has a shy demeanor. The two will share the exhibit on a rotational basis, as fossas are solitary animals by nature.

Varus, Singapore Zoo’s nine-year-old male fossa ripping off pieces of meat tied onto one of the dynamic branches which are part of exhibit design. Contrary to older, static designs, dynamic branches are spring loaded and sway with the animal’s weight, replicating the way natural branches behave.

Keepers can access the fossas from the guest area to conduct medical conditioning—an important part of the animals’ health care regime while allowing guests an up-close view.

The exhibit is also inbuilt with features that replicate the fossa’s natural habitat to improve both animal welfare and guests’ viewing experience. Guests can watch the fossa manoeuvre expertly around dynamic branches that sway with its weight, helping to enhance its sense of balance and muscularity.

Varus and Kabibi were brought to Singapore Zoo under the recommendation of European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP), a breeding programme by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) of which Singapore Zoo is a member. Under the programme, which aims to conserve healthy populations of animals under human care and maintain their genetic diversity, Singapore Zoo’s latest couple is tasked to produce more baby fossas.

Fossas are classified as Vulnerable in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, under threat by habitat loss and hunting.

Photos are all credit to Wildlife Reserves Singapore.