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SPECIAL DELIVERY FOR ZOO VISITORS.

A CAPYBARA - the world's largest rodent species - gave birth to four pups at Chester Zoo.

Zookeepers spotted mum Lochley giving birth to her first two youngsters at around 7.30am.

The third and fourth members of the quartet arrived just before 11am.

Sometimes referred to as the giant guinea pig (the species are closely related), the capybara comes from South America and can grow up to 1.5m (4.9ft) in length.

James Andrewes, assistant team manager at the zoo, said: "Her first two pups arrived before the zoo opened with her second two born in front of a handful of rather astonished visitors.

"Within no time, all of the babies were up on their feet, running around, sniffing buttercups and clambering over mum.

"We can already see that they're going to be a bit of a handful for Lochley but she's looking fairly unfazed and I can see her keeping them in line without too much trouble.

"They'll nurse around seven times a day and it's at feeding time that they tend to settle down... for a short while at least!" Capybaras are found on grassland and in tropical rainforest, but spend much of their time in the water. Their eyes and nostrils are on the tops of their heads so they can stay submerged with very little of their body showing - helping them to avoid detection by predators such as jaguars, anacondas and caiman.

The capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species but is threatened by habitat degradation and illegal poaching for its meat and skin, which can be turned into leather.

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:May 19, 2016
Words:267
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