Coatis have made a welcome return to the Curraghs Wildlife Park following the arrival of four new residents.
One male and three female Coatis, also known as Coatimundi, were transported from Zoo De Pont Scorff in Northern France. They completed the journey to the Isle of Man with assistance from the Steam Packet Company.
Visitors to the park in Ballaugh will be able to see the latest residents in the new Coati exhibit which officially opens after Easter, although park staff hope to have them out on show in time for the Easter weekend.
Coatis are a charismatic animal from South America and are members of the raccoon family. They are extremely good climbers and their long, bendy snouts enable them to sniff out food in tree holes and crevices. They prefer to sleep or rest in elevated places and niches, like the rainforest canopy, in crudely built sleeping nests.
Wildlife Park General Manager Kathleen Graham said: ‘We are really pleased to have something new at the park for our 50th anniversary year. Coatis have been kept at the park before, but not for many years, so it is a welcome return for this species in a great new exhibit.
‘We are sure this species will be really popular with visitors as, like Meerkats, they are diurnal, which means they are active throughout the day. The new exhibit looks fabulous and it is one of the biggest Coati enclosures I have seen, we are really proud to bring such a high standard exhibit to the Island and of the staff and contractors efforts in creating such a nice enclosure for the Coatis.
‘I’d like to thank the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for its ongoing support for the transport of animals to and from the Wildlife Park.’
Head Keeper Johnny Jauncey added: ‘I have loved being involved in creating this new exhibit. We decided to use all the space available from the old flamingo enclosure and a piece of ground to the side where we had Sea Lions a long time ago. The exhibit is broken down into two outside areas, one really large area with planting, rocks and logs and the other area has high raised climbing poles, ropes and nest boxes. They also have an inside shed with heater if it gets really cold in the winter.’
Although the species of Coati the Curraghs Wildlife Park has - Nasua Nasua - are not endangered, the Durrell Trust does have a project for the Mountain Coati which is considered to be very endangered despite there not being enough data available to earn IUCN status yet. The Trust is working in Columbia to gain understanding of the Mountain Coati and how to save it, the first step being to gain enough data to show it is critically endangered. The Wildlife Park hopes to use their Coatis to highlight this project and raise some funds for it.
Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We’re pleased to have been able to assist with the return of Coatis to the Wildlife Park, which are sure to be popular. The new exhibit will be an attraction not only to Island residents, but also to our visitors during the summer.’
Photograph: One of the new Coatis which have arrived at the Wildlife Park with support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company