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any of a group of tree-climbing mammals comprising raccoons, coatis, the New World ringtail, the cacomistle, and the kinkajou. Though the 18 species are classified as carnivores, procyonids are actually omnivorous and are closely related to bears (family Ursidae). Indeed, both the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and the lesser, or red, panda (Ailurus fulgens) have been grouped in the past as procyonids, though they are actually bears. Procyonids mostly inhabit Central America, and only the North American raccoon is widely distributed north of the tropics. The raccoon and some other procyonids are sometimes kept as pets.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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