Zoo visitors have been treated to a rare sight of the first fossa pups to be born in its 91-year history.
The long-tailed, cat-like mammals from Madagascar are just 12 weeks old and are only just beginning to venture outside at Chester Zoo after remaining tucked away for their first few weeks of life.
The tiny triplets, born to the zoo’s five-year-old adult fossas named Shala and Isalo in July, have been identified as one male and two females but zookeepers are yet to decide on names for the youngsters.
Zookeeper Rachael Boatwright said: “While it’s still early days, the 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 is highly threatened as a result of widespread habitat loss in Madagascar, even though they are the top predator on the island of Madagascar.
It is predicted that the island has already lost up to 90% of its forests, which means that many species are now on the very brink of extinction.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), lists the fossa as vulnerable to extinction, with recent estimates suggesting as few as 2,600 remain in the wild.
Rachael Boatwright, a zookeeper at the zoo said: “The fossa is one of the world’s most elusive carnivores and little is currently known about how they live in the wild.
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.”
Mike Jordan, Director of Animals and Plants, added: “These three fossa pups are incredibly important to the future of the species and the safety-net population found in conservation zoos like ours.
"This has become vitally important given the huge amount of deforestation in Madagascar.
These three little pups give us hope that we can protect this species from being lost altogether.”
Conservationists from Chester Zoo have been protecting habitats in Madagascar for more than 10 years.