Zoos across the West Midlands and Shropshire enjoy baby boom - with pictures
It's been a busy year for keepers at zoos and wildlife where there have been plenty of new mouths to feed following a baby boom.
The pitter-patter of tiny feet has been heard at West Midland Safari Park in Bewdley, the Exotic Zoo in Telford and Chester Zoo throughout 2018.
From the tallest new baby -Gerald the giraffe - to litters of adorable meerkats, both visitors and staff have been delighted by the playful new arrivals.
Gerald is proving to be a huge hit after he was born to second-time mother Arusha at West Midland Safari Park on October 3 following a lengthy gestation period of about 15 months.
The long-necked youngsters is already 6ft tall and weighs more than 10 stone.
With giraffe numbers plummeting by 40 per cent in the past 15 years, the safari park hopes the new calf will inspire action and raise awareness of the issues these animals are facing in the wild.
All babies born at the park in 2018 being given names beginning with G - and southern white rhino Granville is no exception.
At the last count, just over 20,000 wild southern white rhinos remained in South Africa, with 1,028 killed in 2017.
Therefore any birth is of great importance for their conservation, says the park.
Granville was born to mother Ailsa during the early hours of September 25, following a pregnancy of 16 months.
The baby boy is seen as another fantastic success for the park’s white rhino breeding programme, following the birth of three-year-old male, Ekozu, and Fahari, who celebrated her first birthday earlier this this year.
Also joining the park's residents are Grévy’s zebras Grace and her half-brother Gamba.
Grace, the first Grévy’s zebra to arrive at the park, was born back in July to mother Akuna while half brother Gamba followed in August, born to first-time mother Montana. Both foals share the same father, Quigley.
Two new furry arrivals are among those stealing the limelight at the Exotic Zoo in Priorslee.
The tiny genets were born to parents Samba and Kanu and have been melting hearts at the attraction.
Genets are slender cat-like animals with a long body, a long ringed tail, large ears, a pointed muzzle and partly retractile claws.
They live in Africa and parts of Europe and eat small rodents, insects and fruit, but sadly they are also hunted for their fur.
While it's been a busy year for one female meerkat who welcomed three litters of pups in seven months.
The zoo hadn’t ever had any baby meerkats until the start of this year, but now four lots of youngsters have been born at the attraction.
“In the wild they can be very prolific,” owner Scott Adams said. “They can have quite a lot in a year. After the mother gives birth, she can become pregnant the next day.
“It’s nice for us, because until the conditions are right and the mother is happy and settled, they’re not going to have babies,” he added.
Also intriguing visitors have been four baby skunks who arrived in the summer. They are in fact very friendly creatures, despite their bad reputation.
There has also been a splash of colour with baby chameleons. "From the second they hatch, they are miniature versions of their mum and dad. They’re catching fruit flies and climbing trees," said Scott.
At Chester Zoo, there has been an unprecedented number births in 2018. A grand total of 733 mammals have been born so far exceeding the previous highest total of 566 in the same time period.
The most recent is a tiny pink-faced rare baby silvery gibbon born to mother Tilu and father Alven after a gestation of around 210 days.
Mike Jordan, the zoo’s collections director, said: "This new baby gibbon arrived hot on the heels of a whole host of other important births. Indeed over the last few months we’ve witnessed a huge baby boom at the zoo – including the most mammal births on record."
The zoo has also broken records with the first sun bear ever to be born in the UK.
Sun bears - a highly threatened species from South East Asia – are the world’s smallest bears and keepers estimate the newborn weighed just 400 grams at birth
The cub is particularly special given the remarkable survival of its parents who were rescued in Cambodia.
Mother Milli and father Toni were taken from the wild as young bears by illegal wildlife traders who killed their mothers and kept them as mistreated pets.
Other newborns include an Asian elephant calf, named Anjan, who arrived in May to 35-year-old mother Thi Hi Way after an assumed gestation of 25 months.
Five very cute baby Asian short-clawed otters were making visitors go awww when they were also welcomed into the world during the same month.
The quintet of tiny pups were said to be in ‘tip-top condition’ after being checked over by zoo keepers and vets.
A trio of red river hogs arrived to mother Mali, nine, following a four-month-long pregnancy. This colouring has made the pigs renowned as being the world’s most colourful member of the pig family.
Three small rock hyraxes – a species with a very impressive claim to fame – have made their public debuts this year.
Each of the tiny triplets, born to mother Daissie and father Nungu, weighed no more than 250 grams – around the same as a mango – yet they are genetically more closely related to elephants than any other animal.