Page last updated at 07:12 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 08:12 UK

Smallest deer is born at city zoo

Southern Pudu
Caju was born in Belfast Zoo three weeks ago

The forest hardly trembles when its hooves fall in it, but the birth of a member of the smallest deer species at Belfast Zoo has made a big noise.

Caju, who could reach 45cms and weigh up to 13kg, is the first captive Chilean pudu birth in Ireland.

Born three weeks ago he will reach his full height in three months. A male pudu arrived at the zoo in 2004 and was joined by a female last year.

Keeper Raymond Robinson said it was "great to have a baby already".

"He is very small and can be difficult to spot but is having great fun running around his enclosure," he said.

The southern pudu is found in the lower Andes of Chile and Argentina and the destruction of its temperate forest habitat for cattle ranching and logging is threatening the species, as are road accidents and hunting.

All international trade in the animal has been banned in an effort to protect the deer.

Zoo Manager, Mark Challis, said the animals were at the zoo to help preserve the species.

"We are delighted to support the captive population of the pudu helping to conserve a small but unique deer under threat in its natural habitat," he said.

This pudu is active both day and night, but mostly during the late afternoon, evening and morning.

Males have short, simple spiked antlers that are shed annually in July.



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