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Rare civet born at Newquay Zoo

Named Lam, meaning ‘forest’, the young civet, a fluffy ball of spots and stripes and a black tipped tail, was born on the 13th May 2020 to parents Nam (mother) and Bao. This is the second Owston’s civet to be born in as many years.

Civets are born with their eyes shut and do not open them for the first ten to fifteen days. At birth Lam weighted around 120g and now, at around 3 months old, is nearly 800g, so still has a lot of growing to do to reach an adult weight of between 2.5-3.5kgs.

When born, litter sizes can be between one and three, and the youngsters are completely reliant on their mother, as they are reared solely on the mother’s milk for the first couple of months. As Lam gets bigger his diet will slowly change to earthworms, fish, crickets, locusts and some vegetables. Lam is Nam’s second kitten, but the first one that she has successfully reared herself, the first having to be hand reared. This is a really big step for the female and is great news for the species in captivity.

Dave Rich, keeper: “Newquay Zoo was the founding zoo to hold Owston’s civets in captivity and today we are one of only four zoos in Europe which holds them. Newquay Zoo currently has the most civets of these zoos; we have five. Newquay Zoo and Wild Planet Trust carry out a lot of research and data collection on the species to help improve our understanding of them and to continue to perfect our husbandry techniques to ensure the success of this species in captivity.”

Owsten’s civets are Endangered in wild, and little is known about them. We do know that they have a very restricted range in Vietnam, and that their numbers are in decline due to habitat loss and hunting, and these facts alone make the species a worthy candidate for conservation efforts from Wild Planet Trust. Staff at the Trust manage the European breeding programme for the civet.

Civets are solitary in the wild and will only come together to mate. When Lam is old enough he will be paired with a female either at Newquay Zoo or another zoo to hopefully add to the numbers of civets in captivity.

Newquay Zoo is registered charity owned by Wild Planet Trust.