Bioparc Fuengirola has witnessed the birth of a mouse-deer, the smallest ruminant in the world, a group that includes cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer, elk, giraffes and camels – and that have a unique digestive system with several stomachs.
Weighing in at just 300 grammes, and no larger than a smartphone, the baby is 30 per cent of its mother's weight, while in humans, a new-born baby is barely 4 per cent.
The species has evolved to develop quickly to survive in hostile environments where it is a prized prey for all kinds of carnivores.
Within a few hours of being born they are able to stand up, walk, and even jump, and in just four months they reach sexual maturity. The adults reach barely 20 centimetres tall and weigh just over one kilo.
The mouse deer arouses the interest of scientists for its small and prehistoric digestive system made up of four stomachs, unlike the more evolved digestive system such as that of a cow, made up of three. Its small size means that field work in its natural habitat in the dense and remote jungles of South Asia is scarce.
Bioparc Fuengirola is one of the most successful parks in the European endangered species programme for the mouse-deer, which it has participated in since 2003, registering 15 births with the latest on 4 October 4, 2021.
The survival instinct of the species is so strong that the baby remains most of the time hidden and away from its mother, who it only goes to at night and only to feed. Therefore, it has become one of the most difficult species to see in the Bioparc Fuengirola jungle.