Photos: Baby fossa born at Denver Zoo, resembles small mountain lion

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DENVER — The Denver Zoo announced the birth of its first fossa pup.

The male pup, named Rico, was born July 28 and has stayed behind the scenes while his mother, Violet, has taken good care of him.

The fossa (pronounced “FOO-sah”) pup is moving around more and the zookeepers just removed the boards from in front of his indoor habitat. Visitors may see him now as he thinks about leaving his nest box inside the zoo’s feline building.

Fossas sort of resemble small mountain lions, but the closest relative is the mongoose.

The Denver Zoo provided the following background on fossas.

They have short, brown coats, stand about 8 inches tall at the shoulder and they can stretch about two-and-a-half feet from head to backside. Their tails can be just as long and provide good balance when they’re roaming through trees while hunting.

Their teeth, jaws and retractable claws are like those of a cat, but they have primate-like agility. They can hang upside down and they can climb to the top of a tree quickly.

They grow to weigh about 20 pounds.

Fossas have the distinction of being the largest mammalian carnivore on Madagascar. They eat lemurs, lizards, birds and smaller livestock. They’re cathemeral, which means they hunt at any time, day or night, depending on their mood and availability of food.

They’re status in the wild is unknown due to a lack of regular sightings.