Endangered baby deer spotted for the first time at Chester Zoo

An incredibly rare Philippine spotted deer fawn has been born at Chester Zoo.

Born on 9 September 2023, the male named Hercules stood at just 30cm tall and weighed only two kilograms.

The species is thought to be close to extinction.

The new arrival is part of a conservation breeding programme between zoos in Europe which was set up at the request of the Philippine government to ensure the future survival of the highly endangered species.

Recent estimates suggest that there could be as few as 300 Philippine spotted deer remaining in the wild.

Experts at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) say the species faces a very high chance of becoming extinct in the future. Now, the tiny newcomer has taken its very first steps outside alongside proud new mum Nova, and dad Cosmos.

The tiny animals was just 30 cm tall at birth Credit: Chester Zoo

Emma Evison, Team Manager at the zoo, said: “After eagerly waiting 240 days for his arrival, it was a huge relief when we saw a little bundle of fur curled up next to mum Nova one morning.

"She’s a great mum and has been doing everything perfectly so far – feeding him every few hours and keeping him right by her side. “We have a team tradition of naming newborn deer within the theme of ‘space’ and, given the importance of our new arrival to his species, we decided to name him Hercules, after the constellation of stars.

"Standing at only 30cm tall he’s still got lots of growing to do and will eventually live up to his new moniker!"

“Philippine spotted deer are incredibly rare and their decline has, for the most part, flown under the radar and only a few hundred now remain in the wild.

"Every birth is therefore absolutely critical in boosting the safety-net population in conservation zoos across Europe.”

Hercules was born on 9th September 2023 Credit: Chester Zoo

As well as caring for the species in Chester, the zoo has also supported efforts in the Philippines to protect and restore the habitats, including supporting a number of special breeding centres for the region’s most endangered species.

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Stuart Young, Regional Field Programme Manager for South East Asian Islands at the zoo, said:

“Philippine spotted deer have already disappeared across many parts of the Visayan islands, where they were once found roaming in large herds.

Hunting and deforestation has led to the animals now only being found on two small islands, the islands of Panay and Negros.

“The zoo has, for more than 20 years, funded and helped to build vital conservation breeding centres on the two islands, sharing the skills and knowledge that has been gathered by experts here at the zoo to help successfully breed this highly endangered species in its homeland.

A result of these efforts saw 32 Philippine spotted deer safely reintroduced into a protected nature reserve in 2020.

Since then a number of births in the wild has almost doubled the population and we’re very happy to report that they are thriving.”

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