One of a Rind

At the Virginia Zoo, staff like to celebrate as many animal holidays and birthdays as possible. While we will be celebrating Endangered Species Day on Saturday and World Migratory Bird Day on Sunday, Chef Yohn has partnered with Keepers to also celebrate World Binturong Day with Animeals.

Tasik is the Zoo’s 18-year-old binturong, which is a species whose physical appearance resembles part bear and part cat, but is not related to either animal. Also known as the bearcat, binturongs’ closest relatives are civets and fossas, which are also small to medium-sized mammals. The binturong species is the only one of its kind, and serves a very important purpose in its native habitat.

If you’ve ever smelled a binturong, you know they smell like popcorn, but that smell doesn’t come from them eating the savory snack. Binturongs are classified as carnivores but eat anything from fruits and vegetables to fish, birds and small mammals. Because they don’t fully digest fruit and veggie seeds, they poop them out and help disperse the seeds to grow new trees, making their species vital for the ecosystem.

For Chef Yohn’s World Binturong Day Animeals, he enlisted the help of Sous Chef Meredith to create a fun binturong replica made of Tasik’s daily recommended diet. Check out the recipe and see Tasik enjoying his binturong-inspired Animeals, which oddly looks like a puppet character on a children’s show!



• 1 cantaloupe

• 1 pineapple crown

• 2 grapes

• 1 small mango chunk

• 2 orange slices

• 4 sweet potato chunks

• young bamboo chute branches or twigs

• pre-prepared sweet potato and apple mash


Step 1: Slice the cantaloupe in half.

Step 2: Hollow out the inside of the cantaloupe, leaving a thin layer of fruit on the rind.

Step 3: On the outside rind of the cantaloupe, carve out a hole and stick the base of the pineapple crown inside.

Step 4: Cut three tiny holes, two eyes and one mouth, and stick short bamboo twigs inside each hole.

Step 5: Place the grapes on the twigs as eyes and mango as the mouth.

Step 6: Cut out rectangular holes for ears and place one orange slice in each.

Step 7: On the other half of the cantaloupe, cut out four leg holes and insert one slice of sweet potato in each.

Step 8: Flip the cantaloupe with sweet potato over so that the inside of the cantaloupe “bowl” is up. Spread the mash around the entire edge of the cantaloupe.

Step 9: Place the other cantaloupe with crown on top of the bottom cantaloupe have, mating the two pieces together.

Step 10: Serve to an eager-to-eat binturong!

Tasik went for the outside bits first, then enthusiastically took half of the meal to a more private location, stopping for bites along the way.