On February 6, Belfast Zoo keepers celebrated the zoo's first birth of 2012, to parents Douglas and Colonia, with the arrival of Georgie the Vicuña.
Vicuñas are the smallest member of the camel family and originate from the mountainous regions of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. This species was once hunted to the brink of extinction for their wool and meat. However, in the 1960’s, the creation of national parks and trade restrictions helped to protect the species. Zoos also played their part in their conservation and vicuña are now part of a European breeding program.
Zoo Manager, Mark Challis, is delighted with the arrival, “The vicuña family live right at the top of the Belfast Zoo site and visitors can now visit Georgie and her parents in their hilltop enclosure. Their Cave Hill home is perfect, as vicuña are specially adapted to live in rocky and mountainous terrains. We are looking forward to celebrating the arrival of many more!”