If I had seen this strange-looking creature, I probably would have just passed it off as a weird squirrel, but it is from the rainforests of Mexico!

X @wsdot_east
X @wsdot_east

WSDOT Finds Nocturnal Rain Forest Animal Wandering at Rest Area

In a weird story, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) found a tropical rainforest mammal known as a kinkajou at the East Selah Creek Rest Area over the weekend. The finding of the rare nocturnal animal far from where it is usually seen has raised questions about how such a creature, native to Mexico, Central, and South America, ended up in the Pacific Northwest.

The kinkajou, scientifically named Potos flavus, belongs to the family Procyonidae and is colloquially referred to as the honey bear. It is very cute, but this arboreal creature is hardly ever seen by humans because of its nocturnal habits. "WSDOT East," tweeted at 9:53 AM, expressing their surprise and curiosity about the kinkajou's presence. They noted that the Department of Fish & Wildlife promptly responded to rescue the animal, unsure if it was abandoned or had escaped from captivity.

"Why was it at our east Selah Creek Rest Area over the wknd? We have no idea, but our friends with Dept. of Fish & Wildlife rescued him.," remarked a spokesperson from WSDOT East. The incident has sparked interest among local residents and wildlife enthusiasts on how the kinkajou could have traveled such a distance from its natural habitat.


Kinkajou are primarily frugivorous, meaning they feed on fruits from their native rainforest environment. They are sometimes hunted for the pet trade because of their cuteness or other commercial purposes. However, international regulations such as those under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) restrict their export and trade.

The Department of Fish & Wildlife has taken custody of the kinkajou and is providing it with necessary care. Authorities are investigating whether the animal was illegally kept as a pet or if its appearance at the rest area was accidental. For updates on the kinkajou's welfare and any related developments, follow WSDOT East's social media channel.

LOOK: The most extreme temperatures in the history of every state

Stacker consulted 2021 data from the NOAA's State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) to illustrate the hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded in each state. Each slide also reveals the all-time highest 24-hour precipitation record and all-time highest 24-hour snowfall.

Keep reading to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

Gallery Credit: Anuradha Varanasi

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