Thursday, February 24, 2005

Pottos on the screen

Pottos have been my favourite animal since I first saw them creeping through the darkness of London Zoo's 'Moonlight World' exhibition. Most people have never heard of them, and I've been wondering whether they've ever appeared in a nature film. So far I've got nothing. David Attenborough, bless him, mentioned pottos in 'Life on Earth,' but didn't show any footage. When nature-show producers need a climbing nocturnal prosimian, they usually turn to the potto's Asian cousin, the loris. This is understandable: lorises live in safer countries than pottos and (I believe) tend to be found lower in the trees. However, pottos have some unique characteristics that would make them worth filming. For example, there are their grooming rituals, in which a group of animals twist together so that it's hard to tell where one ends and another begins. This display always leaves visitors to the zoo transfixed. There's also the potto's very unusual method of self-defence, attacking predators with the sharp vertebrae in its neck. Perhaps Sir David is up for another project ...

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