Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Zoo breeds endangered jumping rat

Baby giant jumping rat
There are 52 giant jumping rats in captivity in Europe.

A giant jumping rat has been born at Bristol Zoo after a successful "love match" to boost the European captive population of the endangered species.

The zoo had not bred the rabbit-like species for more than four years until a female was brought from a zoo in Prague.

She was introduced to a mate in November and the baby, whose sex is still unknown, was born in mid-January.

Malagasy giant jumping rats are only found on the island of Madagascar.

'New parents'

Katie Cummins, of Bristol Zoo, said: "The birth of this baby is great news for Bristol Zoo as well as for the European captive breeding population.

"The baby is doing very well, gaining strength and becoming more adventurous, but it still stays close to mum and dad who are proving to be very attentive new parents."

There are 52 Malagasy giant jumping rats in captivity in Europe, five of which are at Bristol Zoo.

The species is listed on the International Union for Conservation's red list for endangered species, and has a decreasing population currently estimated at around 11,000.

Based on current rates of habitat loss and predation, it is predicted that the species could be extinct in the wild within about 24 years.



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