The Tale of Sebastian Civet

Beatrix Potter wrote many Tales of but none as sad as that of Sebastian Civet. I confess it may have been Stephanie but suffice it to say the Civet was a mere babe in arms.

In September 2018 Hong Kong was struck by Typhoon Mangkhut. The most damaging storm to strike us in my memory was violent to the extent of bringing down an estimated 60,000 trees. The HK Observatory recorded winds of 250 kph. Old Peak Road was blocked by fallen trees and officially closed. Of course I ignored that and went up as usual. Shortly after the typhoon I heard a strange noise like a crying baby. I hunted around but could not find the source. On my way down later on I heard the same noise and this time I spotted a young man standing below me off the path. I walked down and with him was a baby Masked Palm Civet, Paguma larvata. The young man was just watching so I phoned for advice from the SPCA. They promised to pick up the deserted baby civet and take it to Kadoorie for rehab. It transpired the civet had lost its mum, who was found dead the following day. I stayed with Sebastian / Stephanie for 90 minutes until the rescuer arrived. I gave it water but no food as it had no teeth. The sad end to this is that after doing well at Kadoorie FBG for several weeks the baby had a heart attack and died one night. Spending that 90 minutes with a wild animal in distress moved me profoundly and it took me some time  to get over the death. Here then are some images of perhaps the most beautiful creature I have met (Mrs. Ha excepted of course).

Masked Palm Civet

Paguma larvata - Masked Palm Civet

Paguma larvata - Masked Palm Civet

The top picture was taken with an iPhone. The kit rubbed against my legs and called constantly, lapping at my mineral water. These creatures are usually nocturnal and hard to see so you can tell what a privilege this was. I just wish it had survived.





30 thoughts on “The Tale of Sebastian Civet

  1. It is a touching story. I’m sorry the baby civet (and its mother) didn’t make it, but glad you and the SPCA were able to rescue it and give it a chance of survival. Your pictures are wonderful. It looks surprisingly calm and in good condition, all considered. I have heard of civets but had no idea what they look like.

    • Thanks Susan. I had never seen one so close before. Usually they run across the road in front of the car at night. It was sad but it was worth trying.

  2. I know it drew comfort from you, Andrew. You’re right, it is a remarkably attractive creature, isn’t it? Sooo sad. Thank you for sharing this moving story with us.

  3. I’ve never heard of a civet so thank you for teaching me something new today. Sad to hear that it didn’t survive but I’m sure it would have appreciated the care you gave it in time of need.

    • They are quite common in HK but rarely seen being nocturnal. A pretty little thing and impossible to ignore its cries for help.

  4. a great story….perhaps you would like to do a guest blog? we can simply use this text and images in my daily blog on wildlife….. all credit to hyou and any links you want….. what do you think?
    we can promote your camera for sale too!!

    • Thanks Robert. I’ll get back to you when the markets are calmer. It’s been a busy couple of days in the hedge fund world 😏

  5. Even though its life was cut short, the time, attention, and care you offered was worthwhile. It’s a beautiful little creature. I’ve heard of them, but never had seen one. The young of most species often qualify as ‘adorable,’ and this one certainly does.

    The experience I’ve never gotten over was watching a pair of grackles grieving over a babe that had been killed when the nest was blown out of a palm tree during a storm. Even thinking about it still brings tears.

  6. We are privileged with the quality of sensitivity for others and you displayed that so well in helping poor Sebastian. His end is sad and hard to fathom given his care at the veterinary. He obviously knew a friend when he met you. Those are lovely shots of this adorable civet. That first really tugs at the heart strings. It is a shame he is not living his life as he should have. Thanks for your good heart, Andrew.

  7. What a shame that it didn’t survive. You certainly gave it its best chance. Now everyone can acknowledge the pathos of its vulnerable beauty.

  8. You told the story with such simplicity – it’s absolutely heartbreaking. And the photos do convey such sweet innocence and helplessness. Sigh.
    On another note, we were supposed to be en route between Hanoi and Hue today…thank god we canceled that trip! I’m not sure how we would have gotten back to the States. It would have been a nightmare, and then we would have been forced to quarantine. I’m thinking of it as our “practice trip to Asia” since we’ve never been to any Asian country. Next time maybe we’ll just try Hong Kong and one other nearby destination. 😉

    • Asia is very different and currently I would not recommend HK. It has very bad political problems. These would not directly affect tourists but there is a real risk of getting accidentally caught up. Singapore is an easy place to start. Thailand is very friendly. Vietnam is good. Cambodia is beautiful but not well developed. Korea is great but like Japan, English is not so widely spoken. But most people get by. I haven’t been to China in years. I loathe their political system and simply won’t give them my money. Lots to see and do in Asia but it will be a true cultural shock.

      • You can be sure I’m not traveling anytime soon, with COVID. We had watched what was going on politically in HK before the virus became news and were dismayed. It’s a tough situation. I don’t know how it will be after the virus clears, but I suppose it’s likely to be back to mayhem, so I appreciate your advice. Singapore – we hadn’t thought about it. I hear you about China, the same reasoning also gives me pause. Well, when we’re back to contemplating the mysterious East I know whose brain to pick. 🙂 Thank you!

I'd be delighted to hear what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s