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Science North adopts new skunk ambassador

Science North lost a “star ambassador” when Rosy died. “It's almost like a member of the Science North family leaving us,” Bruce Doran said. “It's still sad to lose a friend.
Science North's new resident skunk, who has yet to be named, is still settling into his habitat. Scientists are hoping one day, he will be as sociable and personable as Rosy, the 'star ambassador' who passed away in February. Photo by Jenny Jelen.

Science North lost a “star ambassador” when Rosy died.

“It's almost like a member of the Science North family leaving us,” Bruce Doran said. “It's still sad to lose a friend.”

The staff scientist said people got really attached to the science centre's lovable striped skunk.

“She was very personable,” Doran said. “People got to know her, the staff especially. I think people could really connect with her (because) she was social.”

Rosy called Science North home from 2009 until she passed away Feb. 14, 2013.

“Rosy has brought joy to thousands of visitors from around the world,” Science North stated.

“She also played a key role in educating the public about her species, and the importance of keeping wild animals in their natural habitat.”

After the sociable critter passed away, Science North refilled the skunk habitat with a new inhabitant. The yet-to-be-named striped skunk moved in March 6.

“He's still a little skittish,” Doran said. Since he arrived, the skunk has been interacting with a few blue coats, who are “slowly getting him habituated to the Science North environment.”

“We only have one blue coat in there when we feed him,” Doran said. Every feeding, he gets closer and closer to eating from the hands that hold his food. Sniff has taken quite a liking to the meal worms staff are providing him with.

“He didn't know what to do with them initially,” Doran said. “Now he just loves them.”

While Doran is hopeful Sniff will become more social with more human interaction, it's still too soon to know what the fluffy skunk is really like.

“It's not a guarantee,” he said. “Some of our animals never get habituated to people.”

The new skunk spent the first part of his life at Saunders Country Critters, a 20-acre private zoo near Ottawa. The zoo adopted him from his Alberta home, where he was born in captivity April 27, 2012.

Since he lived outside, Sniff is still sporting an abundant winter coat. Scientists are looking forward to seeing what he lies beneath the fluff.

“We recently contacted the owner of Saunders Country Critters who was looking for a home for one of their three young male skunks,” said Dale Myslik, Science North Animal Care Technician.

“Since this skunk was born and raised in captivity, and not a candidate for release back into the wild, Science North is an ideal home for him.”

Much like Rosy, the new skunk has had his scent glands removed. He is, however, much larger than she was, and has a fuller-shaped head. The differences, according to Doran, are “most likely because he is a male.”

While the skunk is still getting used to his new environment, the community is welcome to stop by Science North to see him.

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