New addition to species almost wiped out by Vietnam War

PUBLISHED: 09:05 09 July 2011

The new baby Pygmy Slow Loris at Shepreth Wildlife Park

The new baby Pygmy Slow Loris at Shepreth Wildlife Park

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A VULNERABLE primate species has been born in the Nocturnal House exhibit at Shepreth Wildlife Park, which has delighted keepers after a long six-month pregnancy.

The Pygmy Slow Loris, which can have a toxic bite, was the first official EEP (European Endangered species Programme) that the Wildlife Park joined.

The male and female, who were introduced in November 2010, were transferred from other European collections and matched for their genetic diversity.

Animal manager Rebecca Willars said: “We are delighted to have positively contributed to this programme. Breeding endangered species, and raising both awareness and funds about the different plights such species face in the wild, is the direction in which Shepreth Wildlife Park wants to continue to pursue.”

In the wild this nocturnal primate is found in the tropical dry forests of Vietnam, Laos, China and Cambodia. The Vietnam war nearly wiped out this species when forests were cut down or burnt.

While military action has since stopped, unfortunately the destruction of forests for agricultural and development purposes continues today, alongside animals disappearing into the illegal pet-trade and medicinal market, where body parts are used in traditional medicines.

There is thought to only be 70,000 animals left in the wild, so with just under 100 individuals in the European captive breeding programme, this birth has been well received by the wildlife park and co-ordinator of the programme.

- Mrs Willars has also been in aquatic action to help save tigers and apes. She took on a one-mile swim down the River Thames to raise money for her causes, alongside Ashley Theakstone who recently donated cash to the park. You can still donate by visiting justgiving.com/tigerswim or justgiving.com/conservationswim.

- THE award winning Shepreth Wildlife Park is home to tigers, mountain lion, otters, monkeys, reptiles, birds of prey, and even creepy crawlies. It has become one of East Anglia’s major attractions and is open all year round.

Visit sheprethwildlifepark.co.uk for prices, activities directions and information.

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