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Fossa fortress in Lowestoft

PUBLISHED: 11:35 09 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:19 06 July 2010

A NEW £40,000 enclosure has been unveiled at Africa Alive, for one of its rarest residents.

The new complex - containing a purpose-built indoor facility and a vast range of climbing opportunities - has been specially designed for the Fossa, the largest carnivore to be found on the island of Madagascar.

A NEW £40,000 enclosure has been unveiled at Africa Alive, for one of its rarest residents.

The new complex - containing a purpose-built indoor facility and a vast range of climbing opportunities - has been specially designed for the Fossa, the largest carnivore to be found on the island of Madagascar.

Fourteen cubs have been born at Africa Alive since 1995, making the Kessingland wildlife park the most successful in the UK for breeding Fossas and one of the top three in the world, along with Duisburg in Germany and Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic.

It is hoped the new facilities are to the liking of the park's Fossas Kia and Edward, so they can maintain its breeding success.

In the wild, Fossas are listed as 'endangered' with an estimated population of fewer than 2,500 adults in fragmented groups throughout Madagascar. They are found mainly in rainforests, although some live in protected areas in the island's high plateau.

Their biggest threat is man and loss of habitat through deforestation, population fragmentation and persecution.

Fossas are opportunistic feeders and will take whatever they can catch - occasionally preying on lemurs and also on domestic poultry, which makes them unpopular with local people.

They are seasonal breeders that live solitary lives, the males and females only coming together to mate. Their claws retract like a cat's and although they are placed in a group of their own (the Cryptoproctinae), their closest relatives are civets and genets.

The species is managed as an EEP (European Endangered species Programme) and there are approximately 70 animals in captivity worldwide, mostly in Europe and North America.

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