One of the UK’s largest zoos is celebrating the arrival of one of the world’s smallest hoofed animals, in the shape of a Philippine mouse deer.

One of just 15 to be found in zoos across Europe, and the only one in the UK, the mouse deer – which staff describe as being “not much bigger than a rabbit” – stands at just 18cm tall and weighs only a kilo.

The mouse deer is native to the Philippines and, contrary to its name, does not belong to the deer family but is a member of the ungulates.

Curator of mammals Tim Rowlands said: 

“Our new arrival is not much bigger than a rabbit, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in his importance.

We’re now one of only six zoos in the whole of Europe to hold this charming species and the first in the UK. Our long-term aim is to learn more about what makes these animals tick and make a real impact in terms of the conservation breeding programme in zoos. 

“On top of that, we do a lot of extremely valuable conservation work in the areas of south-east Asia where these animals come from, helping to protect habitats and ultimately the animals themselves. This Philippine mouse deer is a fine ambassador for his cousins in the wild and we hope that when people see him, they’ll understand why it’s so important we don’t let incredible species like these disappear.”

As he is the only one of his species in the UK, the zoo hopes to find a female as part of its plans to join the endangered species breeding programme. 

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