Operation Save Our Civets – BIAZA zoos collaborating to conserve an endangered species- 4th Oct, 2020
Owston’s civets, Chrotogale owstoni, are an endangered species of Asian civet that have been cared for by BIAZA collections for a number of years. The current ex-situ breeding programme population is solely based in the UK, the majority in BIAZA collections. Reproduction within the population has slowed down significantly and as the only ex-situ population in existence their potential for conservation action is very high.
Through communication and collaboration, the UK holders and a number of experts are working towards developing the keeping and care of the species, with the end goal of maximising the reproductive potential of the population. Something that became even more important following the publication of the Owston’s civet conservation action plan that was launched in 2019.
5 key areas were focused on; diets, enclosure usage and design, weight management, animal health and reproductive biology. Some aspects were quickly developed including improved captive diets and improvements in captive care in regard to enclosure design and temperature. Other elements are slower progress such as veterinary results and endocrinology.
In 2019 Newquay Zoo bred the first civets in captivity for 3 years, following the implementation of many of the practices the civet group had produced. The programme continues to develop with research and data sharing continuing between all the holders with the hope of replicating Newquay zoos breeding success last year.
This project exemplifies how collaboration is key to conservation and that BIAZA zoos, big or small, can be active contributors in preserving one of the most threatened carnivores in the world. Shaldon Wildlife Trust, Newquay Zoo and Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens submitted this project to the BIAZA Awards Animal Husbandry, Care & Breeding category for 2020 and won a Silver award.