This interview is part of a year-end series with people in the region that made news in 2013.
In August, scientists announced the discovery of a new mammal, the first in decades. The olungito lives in the forests of the Andes. The raccoon is the closest cousin, but it has also been described as a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear. While it lives in the forest, it was actually discovered in Chicago's Field Museum by Kristofer Helgen. He was looking at pelts and skeletons when he figured it out.
From The Associated Press:
"It's been kind of hiding in plain sight for a long time" despite its extraordinary beauty, said Kristofer Helgen, the Smithsonian's curator of mammals.
The little zoo critter, named Ringerl, was mistaken for a sister species, the olingo. Before she died in 1976, Ringerl was shipped from zoo to zoo in Louisville, Ky., Tucson, Ariz., Salt Lake City, Washington and New York City to try to get it to breed with other olingos.
"It turns out she wasn't fussy," Helgen said. "She wasn't the right species."
Helgen grew up in Fridley and Coon Rapids, and went to Coon Rapids High School. He joins The Daily Circuit to discuss the discovery.