Friday, 7 December 2018

Rare western tree hyrax born in Ostrava zoo

1 March 2018

Ostrava, North Moravia, Feb 28 (CTK) - The world's first young of the rare western tree hyrax was born in captivity in the Ostrava zoo on February 18, zoo spokeswoman Sarka Novakova has told CTK.

The Ostrava zoo is the only place outside Africa, where tree hyraxes have their habitat, where people can see this mammal. No other zoo is breeding it, Novakova said.

Moreover, the Ostrava zoo is the only one to breed even the eastern tree hyrax.

It started breeding the western tree hyrax in the autumn of 2016 when it brought two couples from the wild.

As the older couple was mating in late 2016, the zoo breeders expected the first young. But to their great surprise, it was the younger female hyrax that gave birth to the first offspring, which was quite unexpected, Novakova said.

The new western tree hyrax family is so far kept in a calm shelter and visitors will not see the young soon. The parents are looking after the newborn offspring carefully, Novakova said.

Female western tree hyraxes give birth to one up to two young after a gestation period of some 30 weeks. Compared with the parents, the young are usually quite big and haired, they can see and move swiftly.

The order of hyraxes, also called dassies, consists on five species only.

Western tree hyraxes are not much known since they are active mainly at night and live in treetops. They are known to live in Western African forests, Novakova said.

"They are running and jumping skillfully on tree branches. They have got the nickname 'spirits of the woods' for their laud communication. They primarily feed on leaves to which their unique digestive system was adapted, Novakova said.

Though the western tree hyrax is not listed among the endangered species yet, its future in the wild is threatened due to extensive tree felling and hunting for meat.

"We hope that the zoo will prevent a possible extinction of this rare mammal," Novakova said.

For the breeding purposes, the Ostrava zoo was exceptionally allowed to bring the tree hyraxes directly from the wild, otherwise zoos can mainly exchange animals with one another.

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