A RARE banteng has been born at Chester Zoo.

The male calf – who is yet to be named – arrived to mum Pankhuri and dad Gaston.

Also known as tembadau, the banteng is a species of wild cattle naive to the forests of south east Asia.

Banteng are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) who say the species has declined by 95% since the 1960s.

Hunting for the trade in their horns, meat and traditional medicines and the accelerated loss of their forest habitat are just two factors which have reduced  their numbers to an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 in the wild.

Curator of mammals Tim Rowlands said: “South east Asia is home to some of the most threatened species on the planet and it’s frightening to think that on a busy summer day, more people will visit Chester Zoo than there are banteng left in the wild.

“Hopefully our new young boy – who is doing very well indeed – will inspire a few more people to take notice of this very special species. Better still we hope he’ll connect them with the plight of his cousins in the wild. The name ‘wild cattle’ maybe doesn’t conjure up images of a species under threat but with only a few thousand left, there’s no doubt that this magnificent animal faces an uncertain future.”

The new youngster is the third calf to be born in Chester following Penni and Gus who both arrived in May 2013.

The zoo now has a herd of six – three males and three females.

In spring 2015 the herd will move into a whole new area of the zoo when it opens its Islands project.

Islands will see visitors set off an expedition – moving through detailed recreations of habitats in the Philippines, Bali, Sulawesi, Papua, Sumba and Sumatra.

Wirral Globe:
The young banteng calf was born on May 9.

The zoo hopes that the development – billed as the biggest and most ambitions in UK zoo history – will showcase its conservation work in south east Asia and highlight the threats faced by species such as Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran tigers, Visayan warty pigs and Bali starlings as well as banteng.