WARSAW (Reuters) - A zoo in Wroclaw, Poland has captured the birth of a tiny mouse deer on camera for the first time ever, in a hopeful moment for the highly endangered species originating from the Philippines.
The baby chevrotain, born on Nov. 10, is the size of a large matchbox and weighs around 100 grams.
The species is characterised by its small stature, spindly legs and mouse-like head, and the birth is of particular significance because there are only a dozen chevrotains in European zoos and just one male.
“For the first time ever in the history of any species of mouse deer, an actual birth was filmed and then the first moment of life of the baby,” Radoslaw Ratajszczak, the head of Zoo Wroclow, told Reuters.
Chevrotains are facing extinction due to hunting and to palm oil plantations in their native home.
“They are very prone to predators...they are quite easy to catch,” Ratajszczak said. “And they are of course, like rabbits, very tasty, unfortunately.”
Chevrotains are also very difficult to study, preferring to hide in grass and, especially when giving birth, in secluded places far from human eyes.
It is still unclear what sex the baby is, with conservationists hoping for a male to help the reproduction process.
Reporting by Joanna Plucinska, editing by Ed Osmond
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