ATASCADERO, Calif. - There's a new addition to the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero.
Two baby Maras were born Saturday. Maras, or Patagonian Cavies, are small rodents native to South America.
The Zoo has exhibited Maras since 2001. In 2012 the new parents were added to the exhibit.
The births of the new babies were a complete surprise to the Zoo staff, as the mother had shown no signs of her pregnancy.
In the wild, the gestational period for Maras is approximately 100 days. The babies were born while on exhibit and mom, TJ, is doing a great job taking care of
her new offspring.
This is the first time Maras have been born at the Charles Paddock Zoo.
At this time the gender of the newborns is unknown.
When the babies are older they will get checked by the Zoo veterinarian and their gender will be determined then.
All of the Maras at the Zoo including the new babies are on exhibit.
As common with many baby animals, our newborns spend a lot of time hiding among the rocks and bushes in the exhibit.
"We are so very proud and pleased to have these new arrivals at the Zoo, and such a wonderful surprise they are to everyone! Our Zoo staff does a wonderful job
of caring for all of the tenants at the Zoo, but even under their watchful eyes this Mama Mara was able to conceal her condition right up until delivery.
Though taken by surprise, our zookeepers quickly jumped into action to safely house the tiny infants so that they couldn't escape the enclosure which was
originally designed to keep much larger Maras inside. We're very happy to have these new babies along with their parents as residents of our local Zoo, and invite everyone to come take a look," said Mayor Tom O'Malley.
The Charles Paddock Zoo is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Summer hours are 10:00 am until 5:00 pm.
The Zoo is owned and operated by the City of Atascadero and is located one mile west of Hwy 101 on Highway 41.