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Animal Stories: Our Skunk

A common question CuriOdyssey’s Animal Keepers get asked is, “Can I have a (insert one of our education or exhibit animals here) as a pet?” While an exotic animal may seem like a fun companion, the truth is that they are unpredictable, high-maintenance, and often illegal. Many of CuriOdyssey’s animals are actually surrendered pets because their owners realized they could not care for them or that it is a crime to own one. This was the case with our striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii/berlandieri), European ferrets (Mustela putorius furo), and Central American boa constrictor.

This post is the first in a series about animals at CuriOdyssey who were former pets.

Our striped skunk “Oliver” came to us in 2012 from Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release. He was found inside of a gym bag and did not appear fearful of people, which indicated that Oliver was likely a former pet. Because Oliver does not have a healthy fear of humans he was not released into the wild. If he were released, Oliver would likely approach people for food and water. This would not be safe since unlike a domestic dog or cat that has been bred based on temperament, he is a full-blooded wild animal. Because Oliver is unpredictable with sharp teeth, claws and the potential to carry rabies, it was best that he be placed in a permanent home. It is also illegal to have a pet skunk in the state of California.


Oliver is now one of our beloved education animals. His scent glands were removed and he is now used for onsite and offsite programs. When Oliver is not inspiring the public to be mindful of wildlife, he enjoys scampering in our backfield area, eating meal worms and being trained for various behaviors. Because he is nocturnal, our animal keepers have a timed feeder that releases a midnight snack for him every day!

Post by: Rachael Rufino
Photo by: Jen Gale

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1651 Coyote Point Drive
San Mateo, CA 94401
Ohlone Land Acknowledgement
[email protected]

CuriOdyssey is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, Tax ID 94-1262434

Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The gold standard for animal care and welfare.
ASTC Member. Association of Science and Technology Centers.
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