Wednesday 7 December 2016

Blue-eyed Visayan spotted deer calf steals the hearts of Edinburgh Zoo visitors

Published 13/10/2016 | 11:01

The female Visayan spotted deer was born over the weekend at Edinburgh Zoo (RZSS/Margaret Mollon/PA)
The female Visayan spotted deer was born over the weekend at Edinburgh Zoo (RZSS/Margaret Mollon/PA)

A rare newborn deer calf has been entrancing visitors at a zoo.

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The Visayan spotted deer was born over the weekend at Edinburgh Zoo and it is the first time the species has bred there.

Listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, it is believed to be one of the rarest and most narrowly distributed mammals in the world.

The Visayan spotted deer, also known as the Philippine spotted deer, is found only on the Western Visayan islands of the central Philippines.

Jo Elliott, animal collections manager at the zoo, said: "The young calf is doing very well and is already able to keep up with its parents.

"The female calf has yet to be named by keepers, but she is already stealing visitors' hearts with her large, blue eyes. She has quite a woolly coat and her white spots are already very prominent.

"This is the first Visayan deer calf to be born at the zoo, so we are extremely happy. The birth of this deer will play an important role in the conservation of this increasingly threatened species, helping to safeguard it from complete extinction."

Visayan deer are quite short-legged animals, with adults only reaching 80cm in height and around 80kg in weight.

The zoo said that w ild populations of Visayan spotted deer are fragmented in their limited habitat, with numbers continuing to decline.

The main threats to the species are hunting and the loss of habitat due to land being increasingly used for agriculture and deforestation.

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