Staff at Newquay Zoo are thrilled to announce that two male Owston’s civets, a vulnerable species from Vietnam, are to be moved back to their native country in a pioneering move for conservation.

The animals will be moved to the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme in Cuc Phuong National Park, as part of a breeding programme which will help protect the species for future generations. The Owston’s civets were originally moved to UK 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.

Stewart Muir, Zoo Director said; ‘‘Owston’s civets have been part of the collection at Newquay since 2004, when six individuals were brought to a small number of UK zoos to provide an ‘insurance population’ as numbers of wild animals are rapidly declining. Since that day the species have gone from strength to strength in our care, and we have been extremely successful in breeding the species.’’

One adult will be moved directly from Newquay Zoo; the second, which is currently at Shaldon Wildlife Trust in Devon, will be joining him on the twelve hour journey from Gatwick to Hanoi. Both animals were born at Newquay Zoo.

Stewart added; “Having been involved in the project from the very beginning, I’m very pleased that our two British boys will be going back to Vietnam. The international co-operation between ourselves and Cuc Phuong National Park has established an important centre for conservation. International partnerships such as this are helping to save endangered species for future generations.”

Owston’s civets are listed on the IUCN Red List as being ‘Vulnerable’ – this means that they have a very real chance of becoming extinct within the next 100 years. The beautiful striped coat of the Owston’s civet is unfortunately its downfall. The animals are hunted illegally for the fur trade, and they also have a natural, attractive musky scent which again has led to them being hunted for their meat.

Providing a safe home where the adult civets feel secure enough to breed and raise young has been a triumph at Newquay, with one or two babies being born every year since 2006.

Animal Collection Manager John Meek said; ‘‘Careful management of the small population here in Newquay has meant that the time has come to return two animals to their native home. I am thrilled that we have made so much progress for the species at Newquay and contributed to the success of the project in Vietnam.’’

The pair will fly from Gatwick Airport to Hanoi in Vietnam, arriving at their destination at 6.15am on Saturday 9th February. They will then be transported three hours by road to the Cuc Phuong National Park, where Stewart Muir will be waiting for them, assisting the team to settle them in at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme. It is hoped that any offspring fathered by these two males will then be able to be released into the wild.

Newquay Zoo is one of the largest not-for-profit charities in Cornwall – with all money made going directly back into the Zoo and its conservation projects. For more information about the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme, and the work of the Whitley Wildlife Trust, please click here.

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