18/10/2021

Heart-melting mouse deer is born at Bristol Zoo Gardens

This little mouse deer looks like Bambi but would barely come up to his knees.

He has been named Otis and stands just 20cm (8ins) high and tips the scales at only 430 grams.

Otis was born to mother, Brienne, and father Jorah, four weeks ago but these are the first pictures of him.

Al Toyne, Team Leader of Small Mammals here at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “For the first few weeks his mother kept him hidden and he remained quite stationary in the undergrowth. 

“But now he is moving around a lot on his own. He is quite active and confident and has started eating solids.”

He is only the third Malayan mouse deer to be born here at Bristol Zoo Gardens in the past decade.

And his birth is very important because it helps to sustain the captive population of mouse deer whose numbers in the wild are in sharp decline.

Al said: “This does represent a great success and because his mother has had just two infants she is very important for the conservation breeding programme as her genes are rare.”

Mouse deer are distantly related to deer and feed on flowers and vegetable matter, roaming the forests on their native island of Java, South East Asia. 

But they are hunted for their meat and captured as wild pets. Their current numbers are not known but they would probably be classified as Vulnerable if they were thoroughly surveyed.

Here at Bristol Zoo Gardens, we are working with other zoos across the world to sustain a captive population and secure the future of this species.

Last year, a female mouse deer named Missandei, moved to Ouwehands Zoo in the Netherlands, as part of a European breeding programme.

You can see Otis living in the Livingstone's fruit bats’ enclosure where temperatures are kept between 19 and 24C all year round.

Al said: “If people just stand quietly and watch patiently for a few minutes there is a very good chance of seeing Otis.”

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