Tiny hamster-sized deer born in southern Spain

The Java mouse-deer, indigenous to Indonesia, is increasingly under threat in the wild due to destructive palm oil plantations

A tiny hamster sized deer has been born at a southern Spanish zoo. The newborn, an endangered Java mouse-deer weighs just 100 grams, staff from Bioparc Fuengirola said.

The Java mouse-deer is one of the smallest hoofed animals in the world - even once the youngster is fully grown it will be no larger than a rabbit and weigh just 1kg.

Found only in the forests of Java, Indonesia, the mouse-deer is considered to be an intelligent and wise creature by local folklore.

The fawn is the eighth to be born at the zoo since 2006 as part of a European breeding programme. It’s mother was also born in Fuengirola in 2007 while its father was moved to Spain from Lille in France a year ago as part of the coordinated effort.

The delicate animal now lives with its parents in an area of the zoo called ‘The Hidden Forest’ which is designed to look like an Asian jungle filled with temple ruins.

The guilty secrets of palm oil

There are now 43 Java mouse-deers held in captivity across Europe, the zoo said, warning that in the wild the species is increasingly under threat due to their forest home being destroyed and replaced with palm oil plantations - an ingredient used by almost every big chocolate brand consumed in the west.