My first [i]Ratufa[/i].
My first Ratufa.
are there no Ratufa species in the UK?
The RSCC have just imported some I believe, but otherwise they've been absent for some time.
that's really surprising (to me). From my old UK zoo books it seemed like in the 70s they were everywhere, and they would make such good exhibits given their size and activity.
Are they also rare in Europe, given that you've visited a good number of zoos there and not seen any before?
According to Zootierliste.de, this is the only Ratufa species currently in European zoos, kept at Leipzig, the RSCC, Brno and (as you'll discover later in my photos when I get around to them!) Ostrava. I'm pretty sure these are all relatively recent arrivals.
From what I've been told you're entirely right about the history - they were the meerkats or ASC Otters of their day. Hopefully this is the start of a comeback - they are superb exhibits.
Back in the 1960s, the Malabar Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica) could be seen at almost every UK zoo & seaside menagerie. However, when India brought in tight controls on the export of its wildlife, the species died out in western zoos. A small number of Ratufa macroura have recently entered European zoos from Sri Lanka.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but unlike ASC Otter, Meerkat, Bennett's wallaby or South American Coati, none of the 4 Ratufa species has reproduced in captivity so far-explaining in combination with MikeG's hint regarding tightened CITES regulation why we hardly see any of these gorgeous rodents in European or American collections.
The pair in Brno won't be very useful in terms of a "comeback" either-both are, as far as I know, hand-reared siblings.
For a rough overview about former Ratufa husbandry in European zoos, try the "Former holdings" option at zootierliste.
Ratufa bicolor certainly bred at London Zoo in 1976
Thanks @Tim May-but unfortunately, that appears to have been a one-off. Did the offspring grow up to adulthood?
I agree with you that this is a rare event; the birth is listed in the ZSL Annual Report for 1976. I think the youngster was successfully reared.
If I remember correctly, Ron Willis wrote an article about this in one of the International Zoo Yearbooks; unfortunately, I haven’t got this volume to hand. This would obviously give more details.
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