We want to introduce you to one of the cutest babies at The Dallas World Aquarium — our Southern pudu fawn! This is the second successful breeding of this species at DWA, and although currently off exhibit to the public, that will not always be the case.
The Southern pudu (Pudu puda), also known as the Chilean pudu, is found in the southern part of Chile and through the Southwestern part of Argentina; along the foothills of the Andes Mountains. They prefer temperate pristine rainforests, where their favored food is easily found. Their diet is made up of young leaves, sprouts of trees, shrubs and fruit. Due to its size, it is not uncommon to see the pudu jumping on logs or standing on its hind legs in order to reach the best available diet. Pudus are the smallest deer, averaging in size between 20-22 pounds. Fawns weigh between 1.5 – 2 pounds at birth. They are believed to have adapted this small size to help enable them to slip through the dense forest undergrowth. Having a reddish coat color during the summer, this will turn to a darker brown in the winter. You can tell the male pudu from the female, because they sport short spikey antlers, about three inches long. These antlers are shed between June and July of each year. Fawns have spots until about three months old, which help camouflage them from predators.
The Southern pudu is listed as Vulnerable by IUCN Red List, because it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. The total population is believed to be less than 10,000 individuals. As with many animals, habitat loss and population fragmentation play a large role in the declining numbers of the wild populations. Over 90% of the Southern pudu’s former habitat in Chile has been lost. In addition, pudus are competing for resources with introduced species, such as the European red deer. Domestic dogs are also helping with the decline of the Southern pudu, by not only killing them, but also introducing parasites, for which the pudu has no natural defense.
Keep your eyes open for the future expansions at the DWA and when the time is right, be sure to check out the Southern pudu on exhibit. They will be most active in the morning and late afternoon, so plan your trip accordingly. We can’t wait until we will finally be able to show off our Southern pudu ambassadors to the public, so you can see why protecting them in the wild is so important.