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Rock hyrax babies make public debut at Chester Zoo

The species is genetically more closely related to elephants than other animal.

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Three rock hyraxes have been born at Chester Zoo (Chester Zoo/PA)

Three rock hyraxes have been born at Chester Zoo (Chester Zoo/PA)

Three rock hyraxes have been born at Chester Zoo (Chester Zoo/PA)

Three new additions from the species of animals most closely related to elephants have made their public debut at Chester Zoo – but they don’t look as you would expect.

The small, furry rock hyraxes – two male and one female – were born to mother Daissie and father Nungu at the zoo in July.

The  babies weigh no more than 250 grams, about the same as a mango, but are genetically more closely related to elephants than any other animal.

Just like their much bigger ancestors, rock hyraxes boast two large incisor teeth which constantly grow like tiny tusks while the shape of their feet and their skull structure is also very similar to an elephant’s.

Their pregnancies can last for more than seven months and at birth young are well developed, just like miniature adults.

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The rock hyrax is genetically more closely related to elephants than any other animal (Chester Zoo/PA)

The rock hyrax is genetically more closely related to elephants than any other animal (Chester Zoo/PA)

The rock hyrax is genetically more closely related to elephants than any other animal (Chester Zoo/PA)

The animals, also known as rock rabbits, live in rocky terrain and can be found in large colonies across Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Scientists believe they have their own form of language, communicating via 20 different noises with particular tones conveying different meanings.

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