Newquay Zoo, in Cornwall, UK, is excited to announce the birth of twin Owston’s Civets. The young pair, named Tai and Quy, are the offspring of mother, Dong Ha, and father, Bao. Dong Ha was born and bred at Newquay Zoo, and Bao originated from the Carnivore & Pangolin Conservation Center in Vietnam.
Senior Carnivore Keeper, Owen Taylor recently said, “This is a magnificent achievement for all of us here at Newquay Zoo, as the civet species is very vulnerable due to ongoing population decline. So, to have these two new arrivals is a great conservation result and helps us maintain the ongoing survival of this species.”
John Meek, Curator, added, “The arrival of the Owston's Civets is a welcome addition to the animal population [at the zoo], as this extraordinary species are actually illegally hunted for their fur and often eaten in local restaurants in Vietnam. So, to be able to continue to preserve this species is a fantastic win for Owen and the team.”
Owston’s Civet (also known as Owston’s Palm Civet) is named after wildlife collector Alan Owston and is native to Vietnam, Laos, and southern China.
A civet is a small, mostly nocturnal mammal that is native to tropical Asia and Africa. The term civet applies to over a dozen different mammal species. The best-known species is the African Civet, which historically has been the main species from which a musky scent, used in perfumes, was obtained.
Civets have a broadly cat-like appearance, though the muzzle is extended and often pointed, much like an otter or mongoose. They range in length from 17 to 28 inches (43 to 71 cm) and in weight from 3 to 10 lbs. (1.4 to 4.5 kg).
The civet will spend most of their days asleep and start their foraging for food at dusk. Occasionally they will venture up the trees to look for food but prefer to spend most of their time on the ground, using their long snouts to dig into the soil for food.
The civet produces a musk (also called civet) that is highly valued as a fragrance and stabilizing agent for perfume. Both male and female produce the secretion. The secretion is harvested by killing the animal or by removing the glands.
Owston’s Civet is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List due to an ongoing population decline. It is estimated there has been a loss of more than 30% of the population over the last three generations (about 15 years), due to over-exploitation, habitat destruction, and degradation.