Baby boom at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

A baby yak at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

A baby yak at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo - Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is enjoying a baby boom this spring, as it nears its 90th birthday next month.

The return of visitors to the UK's largest zoo has been accompanied by the arrival of a variety of new animals, including a baby saki money, a yak calf and a litter of woolly, Mangalitsa piglets.

On Wednesday, March 10, the as-yet-unnamed white-faced saki monkey was born, but keepers are not yet able to tell its sex.

Matt Webb, the animal manager at Whipsnade, said: "The baby saki monkey has begun to move around onto mum Kaituma's back, where he or she will spend the next six months before venturing out on its own."

A baby saki monkey with mum Kaituma at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

A baby saki monkey with mum Kaituma at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo - Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Inca, a two-year-old female member of the group, has also spent time supporting the baby, developing her own child-rearing abilities.


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Ten days later, on Saturday, March 20, a female yak named Hermione bore a yak calf named 'Snape'.

Matt remarked upon the energy of Snape, who was "up on his feet and bouncing around the paddock within hours of being born", and has enjoyed playing with the other young yaks.

Baby yak at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo with mum

Baby yak at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo with mum - Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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He said: “Hermione is a wonderful mum. Yak mothers are very protective, as, in the wild, they have to protect their young from snow leopards and wolves. That’s why they have such big horns.” 

Yaks grow long hair and store fat very efficiently in their bodies, which enables them to withstand incredibly low temperatures in the Himalayas. 

In addition to the birth of the yak calf, Whipsnade has also been seen an increasing number of red-necked wallabies, who freely roam the 600-acre site, and two litters of woolly, Mangalitsa piglets - a rare breed of pig originating from Hungary - which are born stripy and are already growing their woolly coats.

Mangalitsa piglets at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Mangalitsa piglets at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo - Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Having had to close three times in the past year due to COVID lockdowns, Matt Web hailed the return of visitors and the birth of new animals as "just what the doctor ordered", as he looks forward to being able to welcome back more visitors over spring and summer, who will be able to see the new animals.

Whipsnade Zoo is celebrating its 90th birthday on Sunday, May 23.

Tickets for Whipsnade Zoo can be found at www.zsl.org

Mangalitsa Piglets at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Mangalitsa Piglets at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo - Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo


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