20/09/2017

Bristol Zoo is the first in the UK to breed quolls

Bristol Zoo Gardens has become the first zoo in the United Kingdom to breed quolls.

Six of the small marsupials have been born in the 180-year-old Zoo’s Twilight World and keepers say they are thrilled.

The eastern quolls are native to Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania but their numbers have drastically declined so these births are a significant event.

Keeper Paige Bwye said: “We are really proud to have bred them. No other zoo in the UK has done this as far as we know.”

The tiny quolls, which are black with white spots, were born to mum Schwarz and dad Sirius who have been at the Zoo since March.

Paige said: “Everything has to be correct for them to breed. They have to be comfortable in their surroundings and the humidity and temperature have to be right.”

She said the warm weather of a few weeks ago led to a rise in temperature in the quolls’ enclosure and this may had resulted in Schwarz and Sirius mating successfully.

When the pups were born they were the size of a grain of rice and whilst up to 18 can be born in a litter usually only six quolls survive the first two weeks.

Paige said although the baby quolls were born about 12 weeks ago but they have only been out of the pouch but hidden in the next box since the end of August and were only now starting to poke their heads out of the nest box.

She said: “We are keeping a close check on their development because so few places breed them and not much is known about them.”

Paige said quolls were really endangered and were struggling to survive in the wild.

There are a number of quoll conservation programmes taking place in Tasmania and a breeding programme at Perth Zoo in Western Australia.

But Paige said as quolls can only breed between a year and two and a half years old their time was short.

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