Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates – Jack Hanna misidentifies a spotted skunk as a "zorilla"

Jack Hannah thinks a spotted skunk is actually a rare “zorilla.” In Spanish skunks are called “zorillos.” They also aren’t endangered and are not ferrets. We rescue spotted skunks. From the Yahoo article.

David Letterman Gets Cozy With a Smelly Special Guest – Yahoo! TV Blog

Jack Hanna misidentifies a spotted skunk

“On last night’s “Late Show,” David Letterman invited a very special guest to explore the inside of his shirt. No, not Regis. The furry animal known as the zorilla.

The zorilla (real name: striped polecat), which is a kind of ferret, was accompanied by “Jungle” Jack Hanna. And as the animal expert explained, the zorilla, which really liked getting to know Dave, is widely believed to be the smelliest, stinkiest, most foul-smelling animal on the planet. Dave didn’t know about the zorilla’s smell until the animal was already crawling all over him.

Hanna insists that there is actually only one zorilla in the world, a claim that no doubt contributed to the slew of Web searches for the animal. Online lookups for “zorilla pictures” and “zorilla smell” both surged into the stratosphere following the creature’s TV appearance. However, online sources contradicted Hanna’s statement regarding the zorilla’s rareness. A zoology site from the University of Michigan writes, “striped polecats are not endangered or threatened.”

Here is a photo of one of our Western Spotted skunks.

Western Spotted Skunk, Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates

Charles Darwin talks about zorillos in his book “Voyage of the Beagle” written in 1839. He saw them in Uruguay which is the south east part of South America. He could be talking about striped skunks based on the description.

We saw also a couple of Zorrillos, or skunks—odious animals, which are far from uncommon. In general appearance the Zorrillo resembles a polecat, but it is rather larger, and much thicker in proportion. Conscious of its power, it roams by day about the open plain, and fears neither dog nor man. If a dog is urged to the attack, its courage is instantly checked by a few drops of the fetid oil, which brings on violent sickness and running at the nose. Whatever is once polluted by it, is for ever useless. Azara says the smell can be perceived at a league distant; more than once, when entering the harbour of Monte Video, the wind being off shore, we have perceived the odour on board the Beagle. Certain it is, that every animal most willingly makes room for the Zorrillo.”

Some stills from the video. Compare to the photo above which I took of a Western Spotted Skunk in my care. All skunks have slightly different stripe/spot patterns. Some have more black, some more white. Some have bigger stripes/spots, some have smaller stripes/spots. Some striped skunks are naturally all black or brown. Some are brown and white. Domestic skunks come in  many different colors and patterns. I’m only talking about wild skunks here.

I found a video on YouTube from BBC Earth. It is a video of a spotted skunk in Africa. It looks very similar to our spotted skunk. The woman calls it a “zorillo” which is Spanish for skunk. It’s possible that what Jack has is an African spotted skunk.

Here’s more video of Jack’s “zorilla.”  You can see it better in this video. The markings and shorter tail fur are similar to the one in the BBC video. It’s still a spotted skunk. Jack says the one he’s holding is a youngster. That’s actually their full grown size.

Mary Cummins
Animal Advocates


About Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Real Estate Appraiser

Mary Cummins is President of Animal Advocates. She is licensed with the California Department of Fish & Game, USDA and the City of Los Angeles to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife. Cummins speaks to local community groups and students about respecting wildlife and humane wildlife control. She is also a Humane Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator. She has written manuals on small mammal rehabilitation besides numerous articles. She was born and raised in Southern California. She attended Beverly Hills Good Shepherd Catholic School and Beverly Hills High School. Besides being a member of Junior Mensa and on the Dean's list, she was a top ten national swimmer and competed on the men's water polo team. She began college at the age of 15 attending the University of Southern California on scholarship, majoring in Psychology/Sociology. After college Cummins became a licensed real estate agent specializing in income property in Los Angeles. She obtained her real estate appraisal license, real estate brokerage license and currently does real estate consulting, expert witness testimony and review appraisals at Cummins Real Estate Services.
This entry was posted in animal advocates, appraiser, cummins, cummins real estate services, cummins-cobb, jack hanna, mary, mary cummins, spotted skunk, wildlife rehabilitator, zorilla, zorillo. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates – Jack Hanna misidentifies a spotted skunk as a "zorilla"

  1. Anonymous says:

    it's what I expect from Jack Hanna.

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