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Newquay Zoo bids fond farewell to rare Vietnamese creatures

By EGaskarth  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

One of Newquay Zoo's Owston Civets

One of Newquay Zoo's Owston Civets

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Two Owston's civets, a vulnerable species from Vietnam, are to be moved back to their native country after thriving in their Cornish home.

The animals will be moved from Newquay Zoo to the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme in Cuc Phuong National Park, as part of a breeding programme which will help protect the species for future generations. 

The Owston's civets were originally moved to UK zoos as part of an international agreement with the national park.

Stewart Muir, Zoo Director said: ''Owston's civets have been part of the collection at Newquay since 2004, when six individuals were brought to a small number of UK zoos to provide an 'insurance population' as numbers of wild animals are rapidly declining. 

"Since that day the species have gone from strength to strength in our care, and we have been extremely successful in breeding the species.''

One adult will be moved directly from Newquay Zoo whilst the second, which is currently at Shaldon Wildlife Trust in Devon, will be joining him on the twelve hour journey from Gatwick to Hanoi.  Both animals are male and were born at Newquay Zoo.

Mr Muir added" "Having been involved in the project from the very beginning, I'm very pleased that our two British boys will be going back to Vietnam. The international co-operation between ourselves and Cuc Phuong National Park has established an important centre for conservation. International partnerships such as this are helping to save endangered species for future generations."

Owston's civets are listed as being 'Vulnerable' – this means that they have a very real chance of becoming extinct within the next 100 years. 

The beautiful striped coat of the Owston's civet is unfortunately its downfall. The animals are hunted illegally for the fur trade, and they also have a natural, attractive musky scent which again has led to them being hunted by other animals for their meat.

Providing a safe home where the adult civets feel secure enough to breed and raise young has been a triumph at Newquay, with one or two babies being born every year since 2006.

Animal Collection Manager John Meek said: ''Careful management of the small population here in Newquay has meant that the time has come to return two animals to their native home. I am thrilled that we have made so much progress for the species at Newquay and contributed to the success of the project in Vietnam.''

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