Join our zoo community

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Whipsnade hand-rearing water deer fawns

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by WildlifeOnline, 15 Jul 2020.

  1. WildlifeOnline

    WildlifeOnline Member

    Joined:
    22 Jun 2014
    Posts:
    15
    Location:
    New Forest
    I read this with interest yesterday. Does anyone know why Whipsnade's keepers decided to step in this year, as Cwd fawns are born most years there? Has the lack of traffic through the zoo resulted in the local kites/corvids bolder?

    Vampire diaries
     
    Jungle Man likes this.
  2. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    7 Aug 2018
    Posts:
    1,778
    Location:
    none
    Even though Water Deer fawns are relatively small.I would not have thought that either corvids or kites would be much of a threat.
    Unless they have a resident pair of Ravens, the only corvid which could possibly be of any threat would be Carrion Crows and I doubt it...
    I have seen a Red Kite take a Wood Pigeon, but the likelihood of them taking fawns is remote. Kite numbers are artifically high in some areas as a result of public feeding. The are beautiful but dirty birds (hence the old English slang name of Sh*te Hawk, due to their scavenging on village middens), so they are certainly a risk to paddock housed carnivores if they drop their rotting food into open paddocks. Other than that their population density certainly reduces numbers of other birds of prey, owls and farmland birds like plovers, but they are not usually a direct threat to live animals.
    If the Whipsnade site is no longer proof against predators like Foxes and Badgers, then these are very definitely a risk to young ungulates.
     
    Pertinax likes this.
  3. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    16 Nov 2008
    Posts:
    2,878
    Location:
    London, England
    There are definitely ravens at Whipsnade; I've seen them several times.
     
  4. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    19,749
    Location:
    england
    I believe they nest there also. As do Kites nowadays probably.

    Unlike most deer, CWD's have quite big 'litters'. The piece doesn't really explain the background as to why they are being handreared in this way or whether these were all collected/rescued(?) individually or are from one litter etc.
     
    Last edited: 15 Jul 2020
  5. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    19,749
    Location:
    england
    We counted 15 spiralling in just one thermal outside Aylesbury a few months ago. On that day travelling through Berkshire/Oxon and into Bedfordshire we got a total count of around 65! A couple of days later I saw about 4 in Whipsnade itself.
     
  6. Panthera1981

    Panthera1981 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    9 Mar 2014
    Posts:
    1,237
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire,UK
    The piece does imply they’ll be put into an enclosure, but later states that the species is free-roaming in the zoo (which it is). So, due to the species status, has the zoo now been told that their CWD must now be enclosed, with the free roaming population bred out?

    The plot thickens....
     
  7. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    16 Nov 2008
    Posts:
    2,878
    Location:
    London, England
    It's interesting to note how the number of Chinese water deer at Whipsnade has dropped in recent years.

    The most recent Animal Inventory lists only thirty Chinese water deer; the inventory for 2008 lists 291 animals while that for 1991 lists 353 specimens.
     
    Last edited: 15 Jul 2020
    pipaluk likes this.
  8. Panthera1981

    Panthera1981 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    9 Mar 2014
    Posts:
    1,237
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire,UK
    Which would strengthen my enclosure theory.

    Ive certainly noticed not as many free-roamers (Mara, wallaby, CWD, peafowl) as there once were
     
  9. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    16 Nov 2008
    Posts:
    2,878
    Location:
    London, England
    I agree that there appears to be fewer free-ranging animals these days. This is seems most noticeable with the Reeves' muntjac; it's a long while since I've seen one there.
     
    pipaluk likes this.
  10. The Prairie dog

    The Prairie dog Member

    Joined:
    17 Feb 2020
    Posts:
    5
    Location:
    Ireland
    I would suggest that they may be hand-rearing to send away to other zoos who have smaller enclosures. With the phasing out of Chinese muntjac there is a big demand for tufted deer and I would say the same would apply for Chinese water deer. Catching ‘feral’ ones in whipsnade I would say would make unsuitable animals to move elsewhere! Just a guess!
     
  11. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    19,749
    Location:
    england
    I wonder how they managed to reach such precise figures with a free-ranging species.
     
  12. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    19,749
    Location:
    england
    I'm presuming its these young handraised ones that are being referred to as being put in an enclosure, maybe for later moves elsewhere(? or not..). As to the free-ranging ones, its not clear really.
     
  13. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    16 Nov 2008
    Posts:
    2,878
    Location:
    London, England
    I am sure that the numbers of free-ranging species are estimates: I am surprised, though, that they are not rounded to, say, the nearest ten e.g. 350 not 353.
     
    Pertinax likes this.
  14. Maguari

    Maguari Never could get the hang of Thursdays. Premium Member

    Joined:
    12 Oct 2007
    Posts:
    5,095
    Location:
    Chesterfield, Derbyshire
    Around the 'new' Indian Rhino house is a good spot - seen them there on the last two or three times.
     
  15. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    16 Nov 2008
    Posts:
    2,878
    Location:
    London, England
    Thanks for this. I've seen them by the Indian Rhino House many times in the past but not recently. I also used to see a male muntjac (presumably the same individual every time), in exactly the same spot just outside the Bongo House, on virtually every visit but I've not seen him for a long while either.
     
    Last edited: 15 Jul 2020
    pipaluk likes this.
  16. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    15 Oct 2010
    Posts:
    3,217
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    Whipsnade is no longer fox/badger proof.
     
  17. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    15 Oct 2010
    Posts:
    3,217
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    I suspect they've phased out Muntjac.....just checked the 2019 stock list, only five of them listed, so maybe there are none now.
     
    Last edited: 15 Jul 2020
  18. WildlifeOnline

    WildlifeOnline Member

    Joined:
    22 Jun 2014
    Posts:
    15
    Location:
    New Forest
    Thanks for the input guys. As it happens, I have since spoken with one of the zoo keepers and it appears that they'd been losing a lot of fawns to corvids (at least partially, I presume, because there is so little cover in PtA where the does often drop). Personally, I've never seen kites take fawns, but a friend who has both on their farm tells me it happens occasionally with newborns.

    We seldom see muntjac on the site any longer, either, and the survey numbers seem unreliable for muntjac, which I presume reflects how difficult this species is to census in general. Unless, of course, they released individuals, as the number jumps from 4 in 2012 to 21 in 2013 and back down to 7 by 2015. The last couple of times we've seen them, it has been a doe around the Base Camp car park.

    FBBird is also correct that the site isn't carnivore-proof any longer. We saw a well-grown fox cub there last summer.

    Survey-wise, the deer numbers may be overall estimates, but the surveys themselves are conducted by MSc students as part of a course module and involve a direct head count, with the students walking the site counting each of the free roaming animals they see.

    Cheers,
    Marc.
     
    Azubaa and Pertinax like this.
  19. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    7 Aug 2018
    Posts:
    1,778
    Location:
    none
    There's the likely answer then! Both of these species will take young (if not adults) of all the free-ranging species at Whipsnade. I doubt very much that any bird species is guilty, but Ravens and Carrion Crows are certainly possibles...
     
  20. Panthera1981

    Panthera1981 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    9 Mar 2014
    Posts:
    1,237
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire,UK
    And hasn’t been for many years. I recall the small group of Gentoo penguins they kept a few years back getting picked off very quickly!