Visitors to get first look at litter of rare fossa cubs at Africa Alive!
- Credit: Richard Endall
A wildlife park near Lowestoft has announced the arrival of a litter of rare cubs.
The four baby fossa were born at Africa Alive! in Kessingland back in July, with mum Tana giving birth to her second litter.
Fossa are the largest of Madagascar's carnivores and have short legs, sharp retractile claws, a cat-like head and short thick red/brown fur.
The arrivals are only the park's second litter of fossa since 2004.
A zoo spokesman said: 'The clue was when staff heard noises coming from the nest box in the cubbing den. The nest box had been specially constructed by our keepers once it had become obvious that Tana was pregnant back in June.
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'Young fossa are quite shy and not very agile to begin with, so it is important that they are given the time to gain both the strength and confidence to explore their environment and learn how to behave from their mother. For this reason, the cubs have been left alone and so have yet to be sexed and therefore, have still to be named.'
The park's original breeding pair had an excellent record, and after they succumbed to old age - with their female the oldest fossa ever to have lived in a European zoo - they had to wait for Tana to become mature before she could be paired up.
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Edward, the father, arrived from San Antonio Zoo in Texas in 2002 and mother Tana came from Reserve Zoologique de Calviac in France in 2013.
Until recently, Tana and the cubs were off public show to ensure that they had the privacy they required for a successful rearing. However, this week the family are being allowed access to the main fossa inside show dens, allowing visitors to get a glimpse of the cubs for the first time.
The spokesman said: 'There are very few zoos that keep fossa and at the moment, the European breeding programme comprises 68 animals - 37 males, 27 females and our four babies - in only 26 collections, so this is yet another important addition to the park and will play a crucial role in assisting with the European breeding programme for this species.'
The fossa population on the island of Madagascar is thought to be between 2,600 to 8,500. Habitat loss is one of the main causes of decline, and fragmented populations become isolated in remaining forest patches. The species is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.