By Adam Dutton via SWNS
Adorable footage shows a trio of rare Madagascan fossa pups venturing outdoors after becoming the first of their kind to be born at Chester Zoo for almost a century.
The three-month-old triplets have began exploring the outside world after remaining tucked away in their den away from the crowds for the first few weeks of life.
They were born to parents Shala and Isalo, both five, on July 9 and their arrival is being heralded as a "huge cause for celebration" for the threatened species.
Conservationists have now released heart-warming footage and photographs of the cute pups exploring and playing together in their habitat last week.
The yet unnamed male and two female babies are the first fossas to ever be born at the zoo in its 91-year history.
A distant relative of the mongoose, the fossa is a slender, cat-like mammal only found in the forests of Madagascar where they are considered the island's top predator.
The fossa is highly threatened as a result of widespread habitat loss in Madagascar, which means that many species are now on the very brink of extinction.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), lists them as vulnerable to extinction, with estimates suggesting as few as 2,600 remain in the wild.
“The fossa is one of the world’s most elusive carnivores and little is currently known about how they live in the wild,"said zookeeper Rachael Boatwright.
"The birth of Shala’s triplets is therefore a huge cause for celebration – not only are they the first pups to ever be born at our zoo, but their arrival into the endangered species breeding program will allow us to discover more about their behaviors - from tiny pups all the way to adults.
“This is Shala’s first litter, and while it’s still early days, her three pups are doing great and are now full of confidence as they learn to climb trees and explore together, all under the watchful eye of mum, of course.”
The fossa can grow up to 6ft long from its nose to its long tail and has large eyes which helps it see in the dark to hunt prey such as lemurs, wild pics and mice.
They move so swiftly through forest trees that conservationists have trouble researching and observing them in the wild.
Experts working with the species at the zoo say they hope to gain valuable insights into their behaviors while also fighting to protect their forest home.
“These three fossa pups are incredibly important to the future of the species and the safety-net population found in conservation zoos like ours, which has become vitally important given the huge amount of deforestation in Madagascar," said Mike Jordan, director of animals and plants.
“In the wake of such dramatic devastation on the island, our zoo experts have, for more than a decade, been working with project partners Madagasikara Voakajy on the ground to help save this unique paradise and the thousands of animals that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.
"These three little pups give us hope that we can protect this species from being lost altogether.”
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