Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Zoo's new arrivals hogging the limelight

By Joanne Sweeney

Spring is in the air as Belfast Zoo turns into a busy maternity ward.

There have been two sets of twins recently born after the zoo recently celebrated the birth of a baby Western lowland gorilla to mum Kamili.

Just arrived are twin Visayan warty piglets, born just days after the birth of twin African pygmy goats.

Their births add to a healthy birthrate at the zoo already this year, as twin emperor tamarin monkeys were born along with two other African pygmy goats.

But for new arrivals in the Visayan warty pig pen, it all started with a nifty mohawk hairstyle for new father Malcolm (right).

Before mating, this critically endangered male adds a nine inch shock of hair to his already spiky head to attract his mate.

Now he and mother Mabel are proud parents of twin piglets, much to the delight of the zoo's visitors.

Visayan warty pigs are the most critically endangered of all wild pigs, and while they were once native to six islands within the Philippines, they have already become extinct on four of them due to deforestation and hunting.

Depending on whether the new offspring are male or female, they will eventually grow to be between 12 and 25 inches in length as adults.

African pygmy goats Pixie and Bandit welcomed their tiny twin girls into the world and all are doing fine.

The animals originate from West Africa and when fully grown they measure between 50 and 63 centimetres in length.

The birth of the baby gorilla was long awaited and hoped for as its father Gugas, a silverback gorilla, was thought at one point of not being capable of fathering any young.

The baby gorilla – only the second to be born at Belfast Zoo – arrived on Mother's Day, March 30 and remains unnamed.

It's still unknown whether it is a girl or a boy, as her proud mum has kept her baby close to her chest since the birth.

However, another celebrated rare birth for the zoo and welcomed by conservationists, was the arrival of the first red squirrel kitten in captivity last November.

Zoo manager Mark Challis said: "It's been an exciting few weeks at the zoo with all of our new arrivals.

"Whether you're shaking hands with an animal character, watching the penguins at feeding time or visiting the new arrivals, it is sure to be a super day out for everyone."

Visayan warty pigs

  •  Despite its common name, the this little pig has only small facial warts.
  •  In the wild the pigs live in groups known as sounders, normally consisting of 5-8 family members.
  •  They can live between 10 and 15 years.

African pygmy goats

  • Pygmy goats originated in the Cameroon Valley of West Africa.
  • They were imported into the US from European zoos in the 1950s for use in zoos and as domestic pets.
  • They breed extremely well and fast, bearing one to four young every nine to 12 months.

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