Two Cornish born and bred Owston’s civets, which were recently flown out to their homeland of Vietnam, have arrived safely.

This pioneering move for the conservation of one of the world’s rarest species was undertaken by Newquay Zoo, proving that even a small zoo can make a difference to the plight of some of the planets most endangered species.

The two male civets are to participate in a breeding programme, which is hoped will result in their offspring being released back into the wild.

For Zoo Director Stewart Muir, this move was the culmination of years of hard work, planning and careful animal management, and he could not be prouder of the achievements of all the team at Newquay Zoo, and at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme in Vietnam, who made this move possible.

‘‘Owston’s civets have not been seen in the wild for the past three and a half years, so to have been so successful in breeding them in the UK that we are able to send some back to their homeland is an absolute pleasure’’ he said.

Owston’s civets were originally moved to British zoos as part of an international agreement with Cuc Phuong National Park – an agreement that sees them being ambassadors for their species and held in trust for the people of Vietnam. Six individual animals were brought to the UK in 2004 to provide an insurance population, and since that day the managed breeding programme has gone from strength to strength.

Owston’s civet are beautiful small carnivores which have never been common. They come from a small area of Vietnam and just over the border into China and Laos. They live in forests, spending most of their days asleep and starting their foraging for food at dusk. They will occasionally venture up the trees to look for food but prefer to spend most of their time on the ground using their long snouts to dig into the soil for food. They produce a pleasant musky scent, which along with their striking coat has led to them being over-hunted. Owston’s civets are currently considered Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, meaning that they face a high risk of extinction in the wild, in the medium term future of 10 - 100 years.

Speaking from the conservation project in Vietnam, Stewart confirmed that the two civets are settling in well to their new home.

For more information on how you can help Newquay Zoo with its conservation work and breeding programmes, please click here.

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