New arrivals are deer little things! BOSSES AT TWYCROSS WELCOME FANGED PAIR AS FIRST FOR BRITAIN.
TWYCROSS Zoo, near Nuneaton, has two new additions to its collection - western tufted deer which are the first of their kind in the country.
Apart from the Twycross two-year-olds there are only two other groups in Europe, in Berlin and Rotterdam.
And the zoo will soon be welcoming the first available female from one of these groups, in the hope that they will breed.
Bosses at the popular tourist attraction will have to wait until next year at the earliest for any additions to the family, however.
The fawns are born in late spring or early summer after a six-month gestation period.
The two new arrivals, though, both male, are not sharing the same pen for the moment.
Zoo staff were forced to segregate them virtually as soon as the animals arrived.
One of them is dominant and "very territorial" and spent the first few minutes of his arrival chasing his rival around the pen, forcing staff to put them into separate enclosures.
Western tufted deer are coloured like their parents but have a row of spots on each side of their back. These spots disappear when the fawns reach maturity.
The species are found from Southern China to North Eastern Myanmar and are named for the tuft of hair on their foreheads.
The males grow antlers but these are often completely hidden by the tuft of hair. They also bark during the mating season and when they are alarmed.
In male deer, the upper canines protrude, forming one-inch fangs.
The animals were discovered in China in 1870 but were not found in other areas until as recently as 1925.
Zoo spokeswoman Kim Riley said: "Tufted deer are not classed as an endangered species but, due to clearing of land for agriculture, logging and other human activities, their future remains uncertain.
"Through captive breeding we will be helping ensure the survival of this species."
Twycross Zoo has a new director. Suzanne Boardman, 43, who launched the website Wildlife Information Network, which provides on-line information for veterinary surgeons. She is now responsible for every aspect of the 60-acre site, including its 800 animals, buildings, finances and 160 staff.
The zoo, which is a charity, has a turnover of around pounds 5 million per year and attracts around 450,000 visitors.
Suzanne said: "Twycross is very good, but it was built 40 years ago, so now we have to look at how we are going to change things to improve it for the coming years.
"We are trying to make some of the areas more innovative and interactive for the animals for example."
"This place has got good staff who do an excellent job and we are going to have a major redevelopment."
Owner Molly Badham, who has run the zoo for more than 40 years, has been made president and director meritus of the zoo.
DN9234_1 TERRITORIAL: The two male western tufted deer settle into their surroundings at Twycross - but have been separated due to rivalry!