24 July 2012

The quartet were first spotted in their exhibit by our keepers on July 21.Small and stocky and resembling miniature adults almost as soon as they are born, rock hyrax babies weigh just a few ounces.But despite their Guinea pig-like appearance, the species is in fact the closest living relative of the elephant – sharing several common features. Not only do they have acute hearing and hooves rather than claws on their toes, they have two large continually growing incisors, which correspond to an elephant’s tusks.And whereas small mammals normally have a short pregnancy period, for the rock hyrax it lasts for around seven and a half months (245 days) – another sign of their relation to their much larger ancestors.Rock hyraxes are native to Africa but can also be found along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. As their name suggests, they live in rocky terrain, seeking shelter and protection in rugged outcrops or cliffs.The new arrivals can be seen in their exhibit at the zoo, which is part of our African painted dogs’ trail.(Thanks to Gemma Boden for the pics).