Support the Zoo by donating now or joining the Zoo Society!

Learn More

Printable Version


Sugar Bear

Sugar Bear is in the Guinness World Record Book!

A kinkajou's life span in captivity is about 23 years. Honolulu Zoo's, Sugar Bear, was the oldest kinkajou ever in captivity, having celebrated his 40th birthday in June of 2002!

Being nocturnal, Sugar Bear spent most of the day inside his den, which is a large PVC pipe. He was a sweet natured animal and who tolerate being occasionally woken up by his keeper for a treat of bananas or papaya. Being a creature of habit, after crawling out of his den, Sugar Bear always headed to the same end of his exhibit shelf where he relieves himself. Then, after finishing his treats, he sometimes would climbs on some branches, followed by some scratching and petting from his keeper. Finally, he would head back into his den where soon he could be heard loudly snoring.

Unfortunately, because of his age and need for a quiet environment, Sugar Bear was not on exhibit to the public. He will be missed!

Click to enlarge photo.


Scientific name: Procyonidae Potos flavus

The kinkajou belongs to the raccoon family and is directly related to the red panda that lives in the Himalayas and China, the olingo, the civet or ring-tailed cat and cacomistle, which are New World residents. The kinkajou and olingo are very similar in appearance, often being difficult to tell apart when seen in the wild. It has a rounded head, small ears, sharp teeth, a long body, short legs, long tail and a soft, thick, uniform brown fur. Their body length is about 16-22 inches (42-57cm) and they weigh up to 6 pounds (2.72kg). It is sometimes referred to as a honeybear because of the color of its coat and in Belize it is called a "night walker.

The kinkajou has a long prehensile tail that is used for balance, as a fifth hand for climbing and for snuggling as it sleeps. It is the only member of its family with a prehensile tail. Their tails are about 15-22 inches (40-56cm) in length. But unlike some monkeys, it does not use its tail to grasp food. Monkeys' tails have sensitive "tactile pads" that kinkajou tails lack.

The kinkajou also has a slender 5 inch long tongue (12.7cm), which is used in reaching nectar and honey. The bottom of the foot and clawed toes are used for hanging while eating. They have bare palms like monkeys.


The kinkajou can be found in tropical forests from Southern Mexico to Southern Brazil. It is commonly seen at night in the tropical forests of Belize. It utilizes the same ecological niche by night that the new world monkeys use by day. The kinkajou spends most of its life in the upper and middle canopy of the tropical forest (arboreal).


Click to enlarge photo.
Sugar Bear is trying out his new hammock, that was a present for his 39th birthday.

It is able to move very quickly through the tree tops and will jump from tree to tree when necessary. At night, their large eyes reflect light for a great distance when a light is shined at them. During the day it will find a hollowed out limb or tree trunk to sleep in, often with the front feet covering its eyes.

They mark their territory and travel routes with special scent marking from glands located on the chest and belly. They are found alone or sometimes in small groups. Enemies of the Kinkajou are the Fox, Tayra, Margay, Jaguar, Ocelot, and the Jaguarundi.

Click to enlarge photo.


They feed mostly on fruit, insects and flowers and nectar.


Breeding takes place throughout the year. The male has an enlarged bone that protrudes at the inside of his wrist, which he rubs the females sides with during mating. This bone is usually bare skinned in the male, but fur covered in the female.

Gestation is from 112 to 118 days after which one to two cubs are born, however, one cub is the norm. When a female kinkajou feels that her cub is in danger, she will carry it upside down.


The kinkajou is not currently threatened although in many places they are hunted for their dense fur and for food.


Name SexDOB
Sugar Bear 1962-2003

Web Links:

"Kinkajous", National Geographic Magazine (October 2003),