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Keepers at Newquay Zoo are giving round-the-clock care to an unusual baby – a six banded armadillo. The Cornish wildlife attraction is one of only 10 zoos in the UK to keep armadillos. This is the first to be born in the UK this year.

Proud parents Wallace (Dad) and Gromit (Mum) arrived at Newquay Zoo in March 2017. Keepers at the zoo are overwhelmed by the cute new arrival, Head Keeper, Sam Harley, said: “We are delighted to have this little one - we made the decision to hand rear him to give him the best possible chance of survival. So this means round-the-clock care from the keeping team. We’ve been up through the night to bottle feed him, which can prove very tiring, but it’s all worth it!”

The word armadillo means "little armoured one" in Spanish and refers to the tough plated outer shell made of bone that gives protection from predators. Fossils have been found going back to the Ice Age. Armadillos have poor eye-sight but a great sense of smell and are efficient burrowers.

Species are found throughout the Americas; the six-banded (Euphractus sexcinctus) comes from South America – mainly Brazil - and is the third-largest species of armadillo.

The baby is currently being fed from a bottle of special kitten milk replacement. At just three weeks old the baby’s eyes are firmly shut - they will begin to open at around 25 days. When he reaches around a month he will begin to eat more solid food. Over the first four weeks the baby will quadruple in weight and will then start fending for himself.

Although there is a large population of armadillos in the wild, they are often hunted for meat and for their armoured shell. Newquay Zoo is proud to be home to this exciting species; the little one will be on show to the public alongside mum and dad in the coming weeks. Newquay Zoo is a registered charity. For more information, go to www.newquayzoo.org.uk or ring 01637 873342.

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