Rare pair of monkey twins born at Wiltshire's Longleat Safari Park for first time in 15 years

  • Watch this video of a rare set of monkey twins at Longleat Safari Park

A rare pair of monkey twins have been born at a safari park.

Keepers at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire spotted a set of twin rhesus macaque monkey infants at the site for the first time in 15 years.

Multiple births are extremely rare in primates.

Initially, keepers thought the mother may simply have "borrowed" one of the babies from another female, but they are now convinced that both are hers.

Multiple births are extremely rare in monkeys, and these are believed to be the first born at the Safari Park since 2008. Credit: Longleat Safari Park

Lead Keeper Leah Drury said: “There have been some instances where a baby has been picked up by another female – often an older sister – for a short time, however, we have observed her suckling both babies over a period of weeks so we’re as certain as we can be they are twins.

“We are always pleased with any birth, but twins are particularly special.

"We’re keeping a close eye on mum and the babies but it looks like she’s coping really well and the babies are also thriving,”.

Macaque monkeys are extremely intelligent animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools. Credit: Longleat Safari Park

Rhesus macaque monkeys have given their name to the rhesus antigens found in their blood in 1940, which has enabled doctors to determine different blood groups in humans.

Found throughout South East Asia and across the Indian subcontinent rhesus monkeys thrive in a wide variety of habitats and climates.

In some parts of India, they are considered sacred with the result that they have lived in close contact with humans for countless centuries - particularly in and around Hindu temples.

They are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.

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