A tiny deer-like animal has been born at a zoo in the U.K. – and it's so small, it resembles a mouse. In fact, the animal is called a mouse deer and it is about 8 inches tall, around the size of a standard pencil, the Bristol Zoo said in a statement.
The lesser Malayan mouse deer is an infant, born during the third national lockdown in the U.K. Despite its deceptively long legs, the deer is short and will only weigh about three pounds once fully grown, the zoo said.
The gender of the deer, who was born to first-time mom Brienne and father Jorah, is not yet known. The mouse deer is just the second born at the zoo in the past decade, with another born last year. That mouse deer, named Missandei, was moved to the Ouwehands Zoo in the Netherlands to help with its breeding program.
Mouse deer are actually distant relatives of deer. They eat flowers and vegetables and usually live in forests in South East Asia.
A similar animal, Vietnamese mouse-deer, was thought to be "lost to science" for nearly 30 years – until was caught on camera in Vietnam in 2019. The rediscovery of the silver-backed chevrotain, an elusive fanged mouse-deer, sparked researchers to "urge immediate conservation actions to ensure its survival," according to an article published in the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
The mouse deer born in Bristol comes from parents who were brought to the zoo to breed more of these creatures.
"Brienne is being a fantastic first-time mother and has been very attentive to her infant," said Paige Bwye, senior mammal keeper at the zoo. "It will be a little while until we are able to determine the gender of the fawn as they're so small and quite shy. It's doing really well though, and has recently started to discover new tastes, such as sweet potato."
"They are absolutely fascinating to watch," Bwye said. "They move around on their pencil-thin legs and munch on flowers and vegetables."