Born on 17th May 2023, this adorable little creature weighed less than a bag of sugar at birth and stood at a mere six inches tall, resembling the size of a guinea pig.
Yet, beneath his miniature frame lies the future hope for the conservation of one of the world’s smallest deer species.
The Southern Pudu
The Southern pudu, native to the rainforests of southern Chile and south-western Argentina, has faced a perilous battle against extinction.
As it stands, the species is classified as near-threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), due to the devastating combination of habitat loss and illegal poaching.
The Pudu’s Battle Against Extinction
Paolo’s parents, Serena and Oden, are integral members of the international conservation breeding programme, aimed at securing a genetically diverse insurance population of Southern pudus in zoos worldwide.
The programme’s noble mission is to safeguard these delicate creatures for future generations and help mitigate the uncertain future they face in the wild.
Caroline Wright, a devoted pudu keeper at the zoo, expressed her excitement about the latest addition to the family: “Pudus are the smallest deer in the world – and so you can just imagine how tiny a newborn is.
“In fact, being similar in size to a guinea pig, Paolo makes even Bambi look huge!
“But don’t let their size fool you; these pint-sized deer are excellent sprinters, and their strategic zigzag running patterns are a marvel to behold, helping them evade predators.”
Amidst his tiny stature, Paolo bears distinct flecks of white fur on his back, providing vital camouflage in the dense rainforest environment.
The Pudu’s Exceptional Beauty
As he matures, these markings may fade, but for now, they showcase the young fawn’s exceptional beauty.
“Pudus may be small, but they play a significant role in the balance of their ecosystem. With only four-inch-long antlers, they bring a unique charm to the animal kingdom.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with Paolo’s development so far, and we hope he will not only captivate visitors with his cuteness but also serve as a vital ambassador for his species,” Wright added with enthusiasm.
While Paolo’s journey has just begun, his arrival at Chester Zoo holds promises of a brighter, more secure future for the Southern pudu.
Together with the dedicated team of caretakers and conservationists, this tiny fawn stands tall, representing a glimmer of hope for these enchanting creatures’ survival in the face of adversity.
Chester Zoo is dedicated to raising awareness about the plight of the Southern pudu and inspiring collective action to ensure their existence for generations to come.
As visitors flock to catch a glimpse of the beautiful paolo at Chester Zoo, they can see how small steps in our own life can help to preserve the delicate balance of Earth’s rich biodiversity.
You can check out their website here.