Rare twin bearcats that 'smell like popcorn' born at Cotswold Wildlife Park

Video credit: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Keepers at a wildlife park in Oxfordshire have welcomed the arrival of twin bearcats.

Also known as binturong, the pair named Barry and Bennie have been enjoying their enclosure at the Cotswold Wildlife Park.

The pair are Dobby and Himala's eighth and ninth cubs.

Keepers suspected Himala was pregnant earlier this year due to her size and voracious appetite.

After a three month gestation period, she gave birth to twins.

Video credit: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Her babies were born in seclusion inside the nest box where they spent several weeks out of sight.

Cubs are born with their eyes sealed and are completely reliant on their mother for the first few months of their life.

They eventually emerged from the nest box and began exploring their heated indoor home under the watchful eye of their parents.

Recently the cubs started to venture into the exhibit's outdoor area.

The mammals originate from the rainforests of south-east Asia and are popular among visitors due to their appearance and unique scent which smells like buttered popcorn.

They are related to small forest predators like fossas, civets and genets.

Cotswold Wildlife Park is one of only two zoological collections in the UK to have successfully bred binturong in the last 12 months.

The cubs are now venturing out into their enclosure. Credit: Beth Peacock/Cotswold Wildlife Park

Assistant Animal Manager at Cotswold Wildlife Park, Chris Kibbey, said: "Since introducing our binturong pair in 2018, they have been doing a fantastic job of contributing to the captive breeding programme and have recently produced their eighth and ninth kits to be born here at the park.

"Young from previous years have already gone to other zoological collections which helps to maintain the captive 'safety net' for this vulnerable civet species.

"The latest youngsters are beginning to explore their enclosure under the watchful eye of their parents and older siblings."

Population numbers have declined by 30% in the last 20 years.

They are listed as "Vulnerable" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Main threats to their survival include deforestation to make way for palm oil, rubber and teak plantations.

They are also sold as pets or used for their fur and meat in the illegal wildlife trade.