Conservation charity Chester Zoo recently added a new resident to its population of over 270,000 animals.
While small in stature, the arrival is part of a rare species of deer from South America and marks a major success for the zoo’s mammal experts, who are working hard to protect endangered creatures across the globe.
Recognised as among the smallest deer species in the world, Southern pudus are exceptionally rare. At approximately six inches in height, the minute male fawn weighs less than 900 grams. However, zoo experts explained that even once he is fully grown, the deer will only be 18 inches tall.
Born to parents Oden and Serena, the tiny newcomer has been named Paolo by his keepers at Chester. He is part of a global programme working tirelessly to make sure the species remains genetically viable in zoos and helping its long-term conservation.
Pudu keeper for the zoo, Caroline Wright, commented:
“Paolo makes even Bambi look huge! But while they may only be tiny and have little legs, they are excellent sprinters. And what they lack in size they make up for in strategy – running in zigzag patterns to help them fend off the interest of less nimble predators.”
In the wild, Southern pudus can be found in the rainforests of south-western Argentina and southern Chile. They were listed as a near-threatened species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) after conservationists calculated that the number of the deer in the wild has rapidly decreased in recent decades because of illegal poaching activity and loss of its habitat.