Two adorable African sengis have been born at Chester Zoo
The tiny twins - also known as round-eared elephant shrews – have been nicknamed Ping and Pong by zookeepers, as they are currently no bigger than table tennis balls.
Sengis grow to a maximum size of just four inches (10cm) and weigh no more than 45 grams. But, despite their small stature, the animals have an incredible genetic link to manatees, aardvarks and elephants.
Dave White, team manager of small mammals, said:
They may be tiny but our new sengi duo are hugely fascinating creatures, whose closest living relative is eight thousand times their size. They were once thought to be linked to the shrew but their genetic makeup is actually closer to that of an elephant - the giveaway is their amazing trunk-like snout.
Sengis are extremely energetic little critters and have a top speed of 18mph. If scaled up, they would actually be twice as quick as the world’s fastest land mammal – the cheetah. They’re incredibly charismatic and one of the very few mammals that pair up for life.
Breeding these small mammals here gives us a rare opportunity to learn more intriguing details about their reproductive ecology and what makes these remarkable animals tick. Collecting information like this, and developing skills along the way, can be vital when it comes to assisting with the conservation of similar, highly threatened species, in the wild.
Round-eared sengis are native to Botswana, Namibia and South Africa where they are found in a range of habitats including deserts, forests and savannahs.
There are nineteen different species of sengi, most of which very little is known. A new species was discovered by conservationists working in Namibia as recently as 2014.
Chester Zoo’s sengis can be found in its Secret World of the Okapi habitat.