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07 06/07/2010

Surprise babies surfacing at Chester Zoo

The breeding season is in full swing with babies including meerkats, bush dogs, a porcupine, a Black Stork, a Victorian Crowned Pigeon and three Visayan Warty Pigs.

Keepers at Chester Zoo were taken by surprise when an unexpected arrival made a sudden appearance. The tiny Radiated Tortoise was spotted side by side with the Galapagos Tortoises, an entirely different species.

Richard Gibson, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at Chester Zoo takes up the story:

"The enclosure was recently renovated and the Radiated Tortoises were moved to a new upgraded area and replaced with the Galapagos Tortoises. The eggs are laid underground so despite searching the area for eggs, we must have missed this one – it was certainly well hidden. The baby tortoise had dug its way out of the new sand and soil to reach the surface. It is now being cared for off show until we create space for him with the rest of the group. The baby is a surprise – but a very welcome one."

The same team of keepers are also celebrating the hatching of critically endangered Utila Island Iguanas, a Chester Zoo ‘first’.

Matt Swatman, Senior Keeper at Chester Zoo, who holds the European Studbook Programme for the species, comments: "the species has been in the collection for more than three years but this is the first time our female has produced fertile eggs. So far four have hatched and we are hoping for a fifth any day now."

A Mountain Chicken (Leptodactylus fallax) - which is actually a huge frog - has also brought smiles to the Zoo staff faces after it successfully reared young. The same frog achieved a world-first at the beginning of the year when she adopted a group of abandoned tadpoles from Jersey Zoo.

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