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African sengis turn heads as they make their debut at Chester Zoo

Published 06/11/2015

Sengis are sometimes referred to as round eared elephant-shrews
Sengis are sometimes referred to as round eared elephant-shrews

With their elongated snouts and hamster-like appearance, it is little wonder these critters at Chester Zoo are turning heads.

The pair of African sengis are now on view after being born in the summer.

Now three-months-old and fully grown, the duo - also known as elephant shrews - are the first of their kind to ever go on show to visitors at Chester.

The tiny creatures are not thought to be directly linked to their shrew cousins in other parts of the world and are more closely related to elephants, and are among very few mammals that naturally pair up for life.

James Andrewes, assistant team manager at Chester Zoo, said: "They might look like a shrew but, fascinatingly, our new arrivals are in fact distantly related to manatees, aardvarks, hyraxes and elephants.

"In the past, the species was commonly known as the elephant-shrew - but many biologists are now referring to them as sengi so as not to confuse them with true shrews.

"They're a really charismatic and intriguing little species and, having now had our first successes with encouraging them to breed, we're beginning to learn more and more about them."

Sengi weigh between 30 and 45g and grow only to be 12cm in length. They are native to Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and are found in a range of habitats including desert, forest and scrubland.

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