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Polish zoo claims 1st birth of rare mammal in captivity

The May 9, 2018 photo taken at the zoo in Wroclaw, Poland, shows a tiny bear cuscus with its mother, very rare marsupial mammals that live on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. (AP Photo/Monika Gorska)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- A zoo in southwestern Poland is celebrating the birth of a bear cuscus, saying it's the first time the rare marsupial mammal has been born in captivity.

    Joanna Kij of the Wroclaw zoo said Tuesday that keepers noticed "movement and a little one" in the female marsupial's pouch in March. The baby bear cuscus mostly remains in the pouch but sometimes leaves to inspect the surroundings.

    Kij said the mother is taking very good care of her offspring, which she said is most likely male. The family, including dad, is being kept in a secluded place so as to minimize stress.

    Bear cuscuses live on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in the upper canopies of the rainforest. They use their claws to climb trees and their tails to swing from branch to branch. They have not been counted and little is known about them, but experts believe the bear cuscus population is shrinking rapidly as they lose habitats to farmland and human settlements.

    To preserve the species, 13 animals are held in four zoos around the world, but they have not reproduced there previously.

    Kij said experts at Wroclaw zoo were taking detailed notes of their observations to share with other zoos in the hope it may help them breed the animals, too.

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