Wroclaw Zoo recorded footage of the night birth on 10 November at 2.24am with a camera in the stall. The video has given experts insight into the mouse-deer’s birth process and the first actions of a newborn, including that it begins to nurse quite quickly.
Experts have not yet been able to determine the sex of the naturally-reclusive baby mouse-deer, as it is hiding from view, but are hoping it is a male so it can help the endangered species breed.
Among the 12 mouse-deer living in zoos in Europe, there is only one confirmed male, named Johnny English, in Wroclaw.
Female mouse-deer reside in zoos in Chester, England, and in Rotterdam, in The Netherlands. Breeding the small and sensitive species is therefore difficult and experts are reluctant to make them travel.
Radoslaw Ratajszczak, head of the Wroclaw Zoo, said in a statement on Tuesday: “It is a conservation milestone for this species.”
The baby mouse-deer is the size of a large matchbox and weighs around 100 grams, reported Reuters.
The species is listed as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and faces extinction due to hunting and habitat loss, with the widespread conversion of their native forest home into palm oil plantations.
“They are very prone to predators… they are quite easy to catch,” Mr Ratajszczak told Reuters. “And they are of course, like rabbits, very tasty, unfortunately.”