A black and rufous giant elephant shrew, or sengi (Rhynchocyon petersi), was born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Small Mammal House around July 10.
This female sengi is the first birth for the baby’s parents. Sengis typically stay in their nest for about a month after birth, but this baby has already started to emerge and will spend more time out of the nest as the weeks progress. The keepers have monitored the mother’s weight, which is how they determined when the baby sengi was born. In addition to its parents, there is one other adult sengi on exhibit at the Zoo.
Sengis typically give birth to one or two large young, which are weaned at about two weeks old. They are found in parts of eastern Kenya and Tanzania and live in lowland, coastal forests. They are 9–12 inches long, not including their 10-inch tail. Sengis are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to habitat loss and hunting.
An acouchi (Myoprocta acouchy) was also recently born at the Zoo—discovered by keepers July 13. The Zoo is home to three adult acouchis, and the baby remains close to its parents but continues to explore its exhibit.
Acouchis are rodents that primarily eat grass, roots, leaves and fruit. They live alone or in small groups and give birth to one to four young after a gestation period of about 99 days. They live in the tropical forest and thick brush of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
The sengis and acouchis can be seen at the Zoo’s Small Mammal House from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.