Pocket-sized triplets, cousins of elephant, make their debut at Chester Zoo

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-05 06:19:33|Editor: yan
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LONDON, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Their closest relative is the mighty elephant, but the latest set of triplets to make their public debut at Chester Zoo are no bigger than a bar of soap.

The trio of tiny rock hyrax, each weighing just 250 grams, have been born at Chester Zoo to mom Daissie and dad Nungu.

The pocket-sized small and furry pups have a very surprising genetic link, more closely related to the elephant than any other species on earth.

Rock hyraxes' two large incisor teeth constantly grow like tiny tusks, just like an elephant, while the two species also have similar shaped feet and skull structure.

Small mammals often experience a short pregnancy period, but rock hyraxes are different, with their pregnancy lasting more than seven months. The species' young are well developed when born, just like miniature adults.

David White, small mammals at Chester Zoo said: "Rock hyraxes have helped conservationists learn so much about the evolution of different animals, and how animals can evolve and adapt to the environments where they live -- they really are special little creatures.

"Hyraxes are known for spending a large majority of their time lying out and basking in the sun, so mum Daissie and dad Nungu have certainly been run off their feet keeping up with these three little ones."

Scientists believe they even have their own form of language, using vocalisations in a particular tone and order to convey meaning.

As their name suggests, they are known to live among rocky terrain, where they used their moist and rubber-like soles, which act like suction cups, to grip and clamber down steep slopes.

The newest arrivals at Chester have yet to be named. Their gender has yet to be established. They were born at the zoo on July 21.