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Pudu baby and mother

The latest big thing at the Detroit Zoo is actually quite small. A female Southern Pudu, the smallest species of deer, was born on May 20th. The fawn is the fifth Pudu born at the zoo since the species was introduced in 2008. 

The fawn is a welcome addition to the captive population of Pudus, according to Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Robert Lessnau. “There are less than thirty Pudus in U.S. zoos, so this birth is significant, especially since the baby is a female.” 

The fawn joins her parents, 6-year-old Carol and 7-year-old T. Roy, and sister Hamill Girl – born in 2012 – in their habitat near two other South American mammals, the giant anteaters and bush dogs. 

Pudu Fawn
Photo credits: first photo by Lee Fisher, second photo by Patti Truesdell

Found in the temperate rainforests of southern Chile and Argentina, the Southern Pudu can reach a height of 18 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 25 pounds at maturity.  The tiny deer has reddish-brown fur and diminutive features, including rounded ears, small black eyes and short legs. Fawns are weaned at two months old, and reach their full adult size at three months old. The Southern Pudu is listed as ‘threatened’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A decrease in available habitat, subsistence hunting and poaching for the exotic pet trade contribute to their decline. Additional factors include predation by domestic dogs and competition with non-native species of deer.