North America's Cutest Animal That You Rarely Get to See!

Dear Zoo Members, Friends and Supporters,

Your Phoenix Zoo is a valuable part of our community and throughout the year we hear so many stories about what the Zoo means to you.

You know you can count on us to provide lifelong memories, nature-based education, and species recovery. This time of year, the Phoenix Zoo is counting on YOU.

Slate and Bugsy, our adorable Arizona ringtails, need a new home. A current priority for the Phoenix Zoo is to double the habitat size. Bugsy is approximately 1.5 years old and recently came to us from the Austin Wildlife Refuge in Texas.  After introductions, the two will be sharing the current ringtail habitat in the Arizona Trail.

The new space will double the size of their current habitat and allow separate areas when needed for breading. The height of the new habitat will also increase, which will be greatly enjoyed by this arboreal species. 

This new space will also be beneficial for their care and breeding, allowing the Zoo to continue contributing to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Program.

We hope we can count on you – because Slate and Bugsy need your support. 

All year-end gifts will go towards doubling the size of the habitat for Slate and Bugsy.  

Any gift you make brings us closer to our goal!

With our sincerest gratitude,


Norberto J. (Bert) Castro
Arizona Center for Nature Conservation/Phoenix Zoo

Bassariscus astutus

I’m Not a Cat

Ringtails are often mistakenly called ringtail cats or miner’s cats. Like cats, they have a taste for mice and wood rats, and in the past were placed in mines and miner’s cabins for rodent control. But ringtails are actually members of the raccoon family, like coatis. Although much smaller than raccoons, ringtails also have long tails with alternating bands of white and black fur. Their tales help with camouflage and balance.


I’m a Rock Star

Ringtails typically live in rocky areas and make their dens in caves, rock crevices, abandoned mine shafts and even abandoned buildings if there is a water source nearby. They are well-suited for their homes, easily able to climb up and down vertical walls, cliffs, trees and even cacti, thanks to their semi-retractable claws and hind legs that can rotate 180 degrees.


I’m Hard to Find

Ringtails are nocturnal (active at night). They have excellent vision, and some think the white rings around their eyes reflect moonlight and starlight to help with night hunting. Although common in Arizona and throughout the Southwest and northern Mexico, they are secretive and rarely show themselves.

Ringtail Map

Diet: mammals, invertebrates, birds, reptiles, amphibians, plants

Zoo Diet: formulated feed, specialized carnivore diet, whole prey, fruits, veggies

Habitat: rocky areas, forests, deserts, canyons

Weight: 1.5 – 3 lbs


Plan your visit today!

The Phoenix Zoo is one of the largest non-profit zoos in the U.S., caring for over 3,000 animals, with nearly 400 species represented, including many threatened/endangered species.



Appearance: Ringtails slightly resemble small foxes. Their bodies are covered in dark brown fur with white underparts and a well-defined black and white striped tail. They have large, black eyes and short, straight, semi-retractable claws on each foot.

Habitat: They live in rocky outcroppings, canyons or talus slopes in semi-arid country, deserts, chaparral, oak woodlands, pinyon pine woodlands, juniper woodlands and montane conifer forests. 

Family Life: Females are mainly responsibe for care of the young, foraging with them once they turn two months old. Ringtails use scent marking to define their home range territory. During mating season, they increase their marking activity to attract a mate while scarring off competitors. 

Threats: Threats include habitat fragmentation and vehicle strikes. 


Class: Mammalia (Mammals)

Order: Carnivora

Family: Procyonidae

Genus: Bassariscus

Species: Astutus

Status: Threatened

Number at the Zoo: 1 adult

Lifespan:7 years in the wild; 14 years in managed care

Diet: Omnivore


all about az

Ringtails are Arizona's state mammal!

Movin' on up

They are excellent climbers, maneuvering along cliffs and ledges by ricocheting from wall to wall.

Plan your visit today!

The Phoenix Zoo is one of the largest non-profit zoos in the U.S., caring for over 3,000 animals, with nearly 400 species represented, including many threatened/endangered species.