On July 21, four tiny Rock Hyraxes - a species with a remarkable genetic link to the elephant - were born at Chester Zoo. This is the first set of Hyrax babies for the zoo.
Small and stocky and resembling miniature adults almost immediately, Rock Hyrax babies weigh just a few ounces! But despite their Guinea pig-like appearance, the species is in fact the closest living relative of the elephant - sharing several common features. Not only do they have acute hearing and hooves rather than claws on their toes, they have two large continually growing incisors, which correspond to an elephant’s tusks. And whereas small mammals normally have a short pregnancy period, the gestation for the Rock Hyrax lasts for around 7.5 months (245 days) - another sign of their relation to their much larger ancestors.
Rock Hyraxes are native to Africa but can also be found along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. As their name suggests, they live in rocky terrain, seeking shelter and protection in rugged outcrops or cliffs.