Kinkajou/Olingo ID Ecuador

Kinkajou or Olingo is apparently the classic conundrum of tropical South America. A kind person on Facebook told me that most of those are likely Kinkajou, but that someone knowledgeable could find an Olingo or two in there. To me, this is a complete mystery – I can tell that the one that holds the branch with the tail must be Kinkajou, but some of the others really look to me like they could be both!

This is the last thing that holds me back in making a trip report from a rather unusual Ecuador trip, so any ID suggestions you make are actually for your own good, because it’s gonna be a cracking read 🙂 All images are taken in places where both Kinkajou and some species of Olingo occur (Panacocha, Sumaco and Mindo).



  • Ben S

    Hi Jan,

    Here are my thoughts. What other sites did you visit in Ecuador? I’m going to Cabanas San Isidro and Tiputini Biodiversity Station next month.

    1: Kinkajou, prehensile tail.
    2: not sure but I’d lean toward Kinkajou, based on the swollen facial gland and ear shape
    3-5 (all the same animal?):  probably Kinkajou, based on the shape of the ears and face and tapered tail.
    6: Kinkajou, ear/head shape and visible facial glands.*
    7-8: I’m not sure. This is the best candidate for Olingo – the tail is bushy and hangs straight down(though Kinkajous can hold their tail like that). However, there might be a facial gland visible in 8. Can you increase the exposure of these photos to see if it is facial gland, or if there is slight barring on the tail?
    9: Kinkajou, prehensile tail.
    10: probably Kinkajou – tapered tail.

    *I’ve never seen an Olingo with visible facial glands, but I haven’t read that this diagnostic in the literature. I think visible facial glands may only be present in male Kinkajous.

    In the field, it is easiest to differentiate Kinkajou and Olingo by their vocalizations:

    I’ve found Kinkajou to be  significantly more common than Olingo at all South American sites I’ve visited. 


    • JanEbr

      Hi Ben!

      That’s actually the animal (7 and 8 is the same individual) that I had the highest hopes about – but also the one that was the most difficult to take a picture of as it kept hiding in the tree. That’s also one of the pointers, it behaved quite differently from all the others that we have seen, which made me suspicious.

      I made a quick album of all available pictures of this animal, all a bit brightened – but it was far and I did not take the large external flash on this trip for weight reasons, so it’s all grainy.

    • JanEbr

      As for the trip, I will report soon, but besides the mentioned sites (Panachocha, Sumaco, Mindo) we went to Limoncocha and surroundings of Tena (Las Latas, Jatun Sacha, Misahualli) and made an uneventful stop in a random place of the highlands. The trip was more dedicated to exploration of possibilities.

  • Ben S

    I’d call that an Olingo, based on the shape of the face which is more “fox-like” than “bear-like” (especially in the last photo). Compare with these two:

  • Jon Hall

    I am not sure what numbering system Ben is using for the photos but I agree Jan that the animal in the album you shared is most likely an Olingo. Look forward to the report

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