Jack the Mara is full of wide-eyed curiosity and loves to watch TV at home with his keeper Colin Northcott. But the three -week-old animal, who loves to scamper around his keeper’s home, is lucky to be alive after being abandoned by its mother on the coldest day of the year.
The miracle Mara – the species looks like a cross between a huge rabbit and a small deer – was minutes from death when he was discovered by rangers at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
The tiny pup was covered in mud and sleet next to his still born sibling at the entrance to a burrow, in the South America Viva walk-through section of the innovative park after their novice mother gave birth but failed to nurture them.
“He was at death’s door and it was the coldest day of the year so he was clinging onto survival,” said Colin, deputy leader of the park’s primates section. “He was floppy when they found him and in another ten or 15 minutes and he wouldn’t have made it.”
“We think his mother was a first time mum and didn’t know what to do. Normally, litters are born deep in the burrow but these were left at the entrance.”
“He was in a bad way but we got him warm and stimulated the circulation and thankfully he responded,” added Colin. “He slowly came back to life and we have been hand rearing him and feeding him from a bottle to get him going.”Colin Northcott, Deputy Primates & Presentations Team Leader
Rangers at the park wrapped Jack in tea-towels and put him under a heat lamp in frantic attempts to restore warmth and life.
“He was in a bad way but we got him warm and stimulated the circulation and thankfully he responded,” added Colin. “He slowly came back to life and we have been hand rearing him and feeding him from a bottle to get him going.”
Jack’s weight has tripled to 1,200 grammes and is on target for a full recovery.
Maras are a member of the rodent family, whose existence in their home territory Argentina, is becoming increasingly threatened.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Park has a colony of 30 Maras and Jack will be re-integrated once he is weaned at about six weeks. He is now a pampered guest at Colin’s home, ten minutes from the park, and has made friends with his two cats.
“Jack has made himself well at home and is intrigued by the TV and has sat down to stare at The Chase quiz show,” added Colin. “I think he is fascinated with the colours.”Colin Northcott, Deputy Primates & Presentations Team Leader
Maras are hunted by predators and also man for their meat and skin. They grow to the average height and weight of a Spaniel but can walk, hop, gallop and bounce on all four legs and some have been clocked at 40 mph.
They mate for life and normally have a litter of one to three pups every year.
“Jack is a miracle but we are looking forward to re-introducing him to the colony where he should have a full life,” added Colin.
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