Caring for endangered species and seeing them successfully raise young has to be the best thing about being a zoo keeper.

And the keeper team at Newquay Zoo can celebrate once again, as adding to the long line of babies born in 2012 so far is a female Owston’s civet.

Sam Harley, Head Keeper said; ‘‘It was only in 2005 that Vietnamese officials allowed the species out of the country, to be taken abroad to start managed breeding programmes in zoos. They are classed as Vulnerable, meaning they face a risk of extinction in the wild. Along with other zoos in the UK, we have been extremely successful at breeding Owston’s civets, and we are thrilled with the arrival of the beautiful baby female which was born a few weeks ago.’’

The striking striped coat and pleasant, musky scent has meant these civets are hunted for the illegal pet and fur trade. They are sometimes eaten, and their bones are used in traditional medicines. As well as all this they also suffer from loss of natural habitat. Therefore it is vital that good zoos contribute towards breeding programmes and in-situ conservation projects for the species.

Newquay Zoo Director Stewart Muir helped to set up the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme (CPCP) in Vietnam, which rescues and rehabilitates Owston’s civets. The centre conducts vital research on the species and offers educational support – helping to improve the future prospects of the species in its own country.

Stewart said; ‘‘It is wonderful that yet again we have managed to breed a healthy baby civet. She will help us to ensure the survival of the species, and will be paired up with a mate at another zoo to start having a family of her own once she has reached maturity.’’

Other babies born at Newquay Zoo this year include two lynx kittens, three otters, Visayan warty piglets and roul roul partridge chicks.

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