Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Ann from Mancelona asked about the creature called a bearcat. It turns out that the proper name is the binturong, a civet found in South Asia. It’s neither a bear nor a cat nor a combination of the two, so the name bearcat is a bit of a mystery. It looks like a shaggy mongoose. Some commentators point out that the creature has a face like a cat and a body like a bear. Binturong was originally a Malay name.

Binturongs are nocturnal, and they are primarily fruit eaters (fructivorous), although their diet may include carrion, bird eggs, and plants, making them omnivores, especially in captivity. One of their oddest features, according to the San Diego Zoo, is that they smell like buttered popcorn. Better check under your seat the next time you’re in a movie theater.

Bearcat has been used in many situations.

  • It was the name of a TV program in the early 1970s.
  • It was the name of a Grumman-built fighter plane used by the U.S. Navy in WWII.
  • It was the battalian name and mascot of a unit in the Minnesota National Guard.
  • The Stutz Bearcat was a car manufactured by the Stutz Motor Company
  • BearCat is a trade name used by the Uniden Corporation in their line of scanners.
  • ECHO Bearcat products include wood chippers, stump grinders, and log splitters.
  • The Bearcat Corporation in Goshen, Indiana, fabricates aluminum marine products.
  • Arctic Cat has a snowmobile called the Bearcat.
  • An armored car used by some S.W.A.T. teams is called the Bearcat.
  • Ruger manufactures a single-action revolver called the New Bearcat.
  • Bearcats is the team name for about a dozen colleges, including the University of Cincinnati and Northwest Missouri State University. It is also the team name for countless high schools.

SIDEBAR: Animal Planet’s Mascot Madness

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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