“Elephants at the Zoo? Really???”
“Afrotherians rock the zoo!” “Meet an animal that is more African than a Zebra or a lion”!!
Exmoor zoo has some unusual and often weird creatures on exhibit! Just recently the zoo has put onto exhibit one of the closest living relatives of the elephant (apart from the sea dugong and manatee). This animal “Hilda” shares the same ancestor as the elephant the Tethytheria which died out 50 million years ago!
Guessed what it is yet? Well often called a “dassie or rock rabbit” they are found in Africa like their relatives, but don’t require the same space, as they are around 50 cm long and weigh in at an insubstantial 3kgs! They are also excellent mini rock climbers, as each foot is bare and has a moist rubbery pad that lifts in the centre for a suction cap effect allowing them to cling to rocks without slipping. This makes them a rather intriguing species and one we are very excited about looking after!
Hilda is a rock hyrax (procavia capensis) who came to us from Longleat safari park! She has taken up residence in the zoo’s tropical house. It is our intention to get her a partner which Chester Zoo have offered as part of the European captive breeding program.
Should you visit looking for one of the worlds closest living elephant relatives then you should be able to see her easily! She has taken to sitting in the exhibit window on a tree branch watching all our visitors come and go!