Tiny elephant relatives born at Chester Zoo

Rock hyrax

Chester Zoo’s newest arrivals may look like the furthest thing you could get from an elephant but in fact these too share a close genetic link.

These little rock hyraxes were born on July 25 weighing just a few ounces. The four babies appear as miniature adults being born with eyes and ears open along with the with coat.

Assistant curator of mammals for Chester Zoo Nick Davis explained their link to elephants, “It’s quite an oddity but rock hyraxes and elephants share a number of common features.”

Rock hyrax

“For example a small mammal would typically go through a short gestation period but the rock hyrax is different, with pregnancies lasting over seven months (245 days) – highlighting a connection to their much larger relatives.”

“There are also other physical similarities between the two species, such as the shape of their feet and their continually growing incisors, which are reminiscent of an elephant’s tusks,” he added.

Rock hyrax

Africa and the Arabian peninsula are the native homes of the rock hyrax. Here it has been dubbed the “dassie” or “rock rabbit.”

These animals are highly adapted to a dry mountainous habitat where their rubber-like soles help them grip the cliffs. They also have amazing eye sight and little need for water as they can get most of it from their food.

Check out the hyraxes as they play in this video.

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

By Cale Russell

TheAnimalFacts.com is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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