The animals come in two-by-two as zoo enjoys summer baby boom

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The Independent Online

A baby boom has been taking place at Chester Zoo, where dozens of new arrivals have added to the animal population.

New additions have included two red panda cubs, four prairie marmot kittens, 18 flamingos and a three-striped turtle.

Further births include a buffy-headed capuchin monkey, a bongo calf (the bongo is an African deer), a shoal of banggai cardinal fish and a vicuna, a relative of the llama.

Zoo staff say they are delighted, and especially pleased with the birth of the buffy-headed capuchin. "The male capuchin, Eubank, and female Maud have recently produced a young animal, which can now be seen at the zoo," a spokesman said. "We have kept the species since 1996. Both parents came from Brazil and are on loan from the Brazilian government for conservation breeding.

"The buffy-headed capuchin is critically endangered in the wild. The species is threatened with extinction and the population is still declining."

The zoo's colony of prairie marmots has had a litter of four, which are now four months old and are already seven inches long. The red pandas, Lushui and Pali, have given birth to two cubs, who are still in their nest box but a special camera has been set up to allow visitors to see them. They are expected to start venturing out in a few weeks.

Nibbles (the mother) and Ernie (the father), the two eastern bongos - animals which are now only found in the forests of the Aberdare Mountains of central Kenya - have produced a male calf, the sixth calf born at the zoo in the past four years. The family can now be seen out and about in their paddock.

One animal that has not had a chance to raise a family at the zoo is Tuan, a male Bornean orang-utan. He is still in quarantine after being transferred from Antwerp Zoo but is expected to join Chester Zoo's three female Bornean orang-utans at Christmas.

Chester Zoo is one of Britain's biggest zoos, covering more than 100 acres.

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