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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 12:26 GMT
Cloud rat arrives at London Zoo
Panay cloud rat (ZSL)
Unique to one part of the Philippines
The first ever Panay cloud rat bred outside the Philippines has been produced at the UK's London Zoo.

Scientists say it is an important conservation step for the endangered squirrel-like animal that was only discovered in the late 1980s.

The new arrival came from one of three breeding pairs brought to London from the Philippines last year.

If more young are born, other European zoos will be invited to take on animals to build up a small population.

"The Panay cloud rat is a conservation priority in the Philippines and the Zoological Society of London (which operates London Zoo) is supporting their work to protect this highly endangered animal," said David Field, head of animal care for ZSL.

"Our aim is to establish a viable population of cloud rats outside the Philippines as an insurance population for the wild."

The bushy-tailed cloud rat (Crateromys heaneyi) lives exclusively on Panay Island, where large-scale deforestation and human interference have severely restricted its numbers.

The slow-moving, nocturnal animal is also sometimes called a cloud runner - its tree-top habitat sits above cloud level in the forested mountains of Panay.

ZSL has been working with the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Programme of Flora and Fauna International and the Philippine government to establish an international breeding programme for this species.

Currently, London Zoo is home to the world's only captive breeding pairs outside the Philippines.


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