A Philippine Mouse Deer has been born in the UK for the first time. The tiny female Mouse Deer (one of the smallest hoofed animals in the world) was born to mum Rita and dad Ramos, at Chester Zoo, on November 16.
This is the latest addition to a special European-wide endangered species breeding programme, designed in response to the deforestation of its Asian habitat. The animals are also poached for their meat, which is considered a delicacy in parts of the Philippines.
Curator of mammals Tim Rowlands said, “Our newborn deer is incredibly small – similar in size to a Christmas bauble on tiny little legs, weighing just 430 grams!
“But, while this new arrival may be small in stature, it’s big in terms of importance. It’s the very first time the animal has been bred in the UK and to break new ground like this with a mammal species is really quite rare.
“The Philippine Mouse Deer is an endangered species. It’s highly threatened by massive deforestation in South East Asia and so, it’s great news that our newcomer will add valuable new bloodlines to the conservation breeding programme in zoos. It’s vitally important that we work to ensure these wonderful animals do not disappear for good.”
Chester Zoo is only one of only seven institutions in the whole of Europe to care for the charming species.
Conservationists from the zoo are also working to protect habitat in areas of South East Asia where the Mouse Deer live.
The Philippine Mouse Deer (Tragulus nigricans) is listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is in continuing decline. It is subject to poaching for food and affected by habitat loss, as its forest home is converted to oil palm plantations.
Contrary to its common name, the Philippine Mouse Deer does not belong to the deer family Cervidae, but is a member of the chevrotain family.
Adult mouse deer stand at just 18cm tall and rarely weigh more than 1kg.
More pics below the fold!