Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

October 13, 2012

Detroit Zoo visitors fawn over baby pudu

Fawn of smallest deer species born Sept. 7

ROYAL OAK — Visitors at the Detroit Zoo have a new baby animal to see — a female Chilean pudu, the smallest species of deer.

Born Sept. 7, the fawn is the fourth pudu to be born at the zoo since the species' introduction in 2008.

The parents, 5-year-old Carol and 6-year-old T. Roy, were paired at the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for pudus. The SSP is a cooperative management plan to ensure genetically healthy, diverse and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species. There are presently only 28 pudus in 12 AZA institutions.

"This fawn is a significant contribution to a small zoo population of this unique and little-studied Andean deer," said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Robert Lessnau. "She is doing very well and, weather permitting, can been seen daily in the pudu habitat with her parents."

The pudus can be found near the giant anteaters and bush dogs, two other South American mammals.

The Chilean, or southern, pudu (Pudu puda) can reach a height of 18 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 25 pounds at maturity. The tiny species of deer has reddish-brown fur and diminutive features, including rounded ears, small black eyes and short legs. The male is distinguished by a pair of short spiked antlers, which are shed annually in July.

Found in the temperate rainforests of southern Chile and Argentina, the pudu is a solitary animal that is mostly active during the early morning, late afternoon and evening hours. It feeds on leaves, twigs, bark, buds, fruit and seeds in its natural habitat.

The Detroit Zoological Society operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo. Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic habitats, the Detroit Zoo is located at the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, just off I-696, in Royal Oak.

The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March. Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children 2 to 14 (children under 2 are free).

The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is free. For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.

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