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Belfast Zoo welcomes baby vicuña which was born during Storm Arwen

Date: 17 December 2021

Belfast Zoo welcomes baby vicuña which was born during Storm Arwen

The fluffy little new addition to the zoo was born to mother Áine and father Ozark.

The now three-week-old was born overnight during the storm, with zookeepers making the wonderful discovery the following morning. The gender of the baby is currently unknown, but Keepers are hopeful that they will be able to confirm this in the coming weeks.

Zoo Curator, Julie Mansell, explains, “We were delighted to find the baby cosied up with the rest of the family safe inside the den. They are really beautiful, gentle creatures that were once at risk of extinction due to hunting for their wool and meat. Áine is an excellent mother and the baby is looking strong and well.”

Vicuñas are the smallest members of the camel family.

They were once held in high regard by the ancient Inca population but, after South America was conquered by Spain, uncontrolled hunting for wool and meat almost destroyed the species. Strict protection laws have helped the animals to recover but they are still dependent on conservation measures, such as zoo breeding programs.

Belfast Zoo has successfully bred this species for many years, in their mountain top habitat with stunning views across Belfast Lough.