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With young kinkajou in 1996

I did my Ph.D. research on kinkajous and have continued occasional projects with them since then.  I trapped and radio-collared the animals so I could follow them around at night, then observed their behavior from the ground.  I described their diet, through feeding observations and scat analysis, finding them to be among the most frugivorous mammals on earth (90-99% fruit). I found a flexible social system where animals typically climbed through the trees and fed alone, but regularly formed groups at large feeding trees, or to sleep together during the day in tree holes. Behavioral and genetic data suggested that they have female-biased dispersal and patrilineal societies. Later I worked with a team studying the animals that feed on Balsa trees and we found kinkajous were the most important pollinator of the tree.

I helped Matthias Klum shoot a story on Kinkajous for a 2003 National Geographic article.  Note the animal (Her name is Lotus) in his famous photo below has an ear clip I gave her as a juvenile in 1993. Matthias and I found her hanging out in the same tree 9 years later. The tree fell down a few years later, I wonder if Lotus is still around?kinkajou_596_600x450

I later helped Motohiro Amano and NHK make two documentaries about kinkajous and balsa trees.


I worked with Christian Ziegler to photograph all the animals, including kinkajous, that come to Balsa trees, as part of his 2011 National Geographic Article.


In 2015 I started work with a team of zoologist on the ‘Food For Thought‘ project to compare the movement and spatial intelligence of frugivores, including kinkajous, with high resolution tracking collars.

BenBob the kinkajou's home range as recorded with 4min GPS points over ~1 month on Barro Colorado Island, Panamaå

BenBob the kinkajou’s home range as recorded with 4min GPS points over ~1 month on Barro Colorado Island, Panamaå

Catching kinkajous on Barro Colorado Island

Catching kinkajous on Barro Colorado Island

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