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Kinkajou-People: The Secret Tropical Forest Dwellers

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We are vegan students from the kinkajou kingdom. Our species is distributed over a vast range, from Mexico through Central America, across the northern half of South America, all the way to southeastern Brazil.

Our body is long compared to our legs, and our head is rounded with large eyes, small ears, and a short, pointed snout. We have small, hand-like paws with five digits and sharp claws. We are also endowed with a very long and strong tongue to pick fruit or extract nectar from flowers.

Our tail is prehensile, which means it can grasp things. I’m grateful too for some of our other features – like the reversible ankles on our hind legs. Our spine is highly flexible, and we have scent glands that we use to mark our territory and preferred routes.

When we emerge from our restful hideaway, we look for members of our clan and enjoy grooming each other before we search for food. Our diet is about 90% fruit. As you can see, we prefer sweet things.

Pregnant females usually give birth to one pup at a time in the hollow of a tree. But the moms are very protective, and as soon as possible, they start carrying their young on their belly wherever they go. Babies start eating solid food at 8 weeks old and are weaned at 3 to 5 months. By then, their tail is fully functional, and they can climb with confidence.

Whenever we take nectar from a flower, our face gets smudged with pollen that we carry to other plants. And because of all the fruit we eat, we leave countless seeds on the ground that may germinate and become new trees.

I’m glad our lifestyle helps grow more trees, but I’m afraid our population is decreasing due to deforestation. Large areas are being clear-cut to create pastureland for animal-people livestock, and forests are suffering from droughts related to climate change. It’s all so frustrating! Clearly, a livable future depends on humanity being vegan. We can only pray they wake up before it’s too late.

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