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Olinguito to be freed after being held captive by shaman

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 - 01:43

An olinguito will soon be set free after being rescued from the clutches of a medicine man in Ecuador. The furry creature is a member of a recently discovered species of mammal said to resemble a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear. Ben Gruber has more.

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STORY: Until recently, this furry little creature was held captive by a shaman in Ecuador. But now this Olinguito could soon be released back into the wild. It was rescued from the medicine man's clutches by veterinarians from the Tueri Fund, a group specializing in rehabilitating wild animals. The Olinguito is the smallest member of the racoon family and the species was only discovered and classified last year by researchers from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. Before the creature can be released back into the wild, the Tueri Fund team must make sure it can survive on its own. Tueri director Andres Ortega says that's no easy task. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VETERINARIAN AND DIRECTOR OF TUERI FUND, ANDRES ORTEGA, SAYING: "Since we don't have previous data from this species and we've had to compare it with its somewhat close relative which is the potos flavus which is the cusumbo [kinkajou]. And within these parameters we can determine if it is a healthy animal." And after establishing the animals health, Tueri Fund's Jose Antonio Campana, says they need to be sure the Olinguito remembers how to hunt. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TUERI FUND, JOSE ANTONIO CAMPANA, SAYING: "When he learns to hunt live prey we will be certain that when he is back in the wild he's going to be able to hunt. If we released him now and he has never hunted live prey, it's likely that the animal wont know how to do it and we would be assigning it to its death." And that says Campana, is something the scientists will not let happen. They want to make sure Olinguito can hold his own....and that after its release, it has the good sense to stay clear of medicine men.

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Olinguito to be freed after being held captive by shaman

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 - 01:43