03 January 2013

The pint-sized piglets and tiny pups were checked over by the zoo’s vets who weighed them, listened to their hearts beat and gave them full physical examinations.

All were sexed with one of the babirusa piglets discovered to be male and the other female, as were the pair of Asian short-clawed otters. Keepers have named the pigs Salem and Yala and the otters Wallace and Dili.

Vet Steve Unwin said:

“We’re thrilled to report that our pigs and our pups are in great shape.

“Babirusa pigs are one of the rarest pig species on the planet and we’re delighted that Salem and Yala are fit and healthy. They’re highly threatened in the wild and so our new duo adds significantly to the world’s population, which is positive news for the future of the species.

“Little otter Wallace weighed in at 730 grams and Dili was a little lighter at 680. Both proved to be fairly feisty characters but they are extremely healthy indeed and so we are very happy with them.

“As they continue to grow and become even more confident, we’re looking forward to seeing them take to the water.

“Zoos provide the last insurance policy against extinction and all of these new arrivals will hopefully now continue to develop and become a vital part of the international breeding programme to safeguard the species.”

The two piglets were born to mum Majene and dad Sausu.

In the wild, the species has seen numbers plummet largely because of habitat loss through logging and hunting for their meat.

The young otters were born on to mum Daisy and dad Robbie.

Asian short-clawed otters – the world’s smallest otter species – are classed by conservation organisations as vulnerable to extinction. The new pups will therefore eventually become part of European-wide breeding programme, providing an important safety-net to populations in the wild.

Vet Steve Unwin and keeper Hannah Sievewright give a health check to one of Chester Zoo’s new Asian short-clawed otter pups

Keeper Phil Molyneux holds one of two rare babirusa piglets and stands on a set of scales to weigh it during a health check-up