Black and rufous elephant shrew at Blijdorp zoo
Diergaarde Blijdorp, the Rotterdam zoo, was home to the birth of a rare black and rufous elephant shrew. This is a jumping shrew (not an elephant!) native to eastern Africa. Only four of them reside in European zoos.
And three of them are right there at Blijdorp. The fourth of these shrews is kept at the Antwerp Zoo and it was also born at Blijdorp, in 2013. It’s clear that the parents of both young shrews, Gloria and Gambit, are a good match. That’s fortunate, because it took quite some doing to find a good partner for Gloria. Since there are so few black and rufous elephant shrews in captivity, no male could be found within Europe. Gambit was located in the USA, in the Denver zoo. In July 2012, he was moved from Denver to Rotterdam in a crate designed especially for him. The results have made all the effort worthwhile. Blijdorp hopes to gain access to more unrelated animals of this species in order to set up a European breeding programme.
Black and rufous elephant shrews are jumping shrews about 30 cm long. These insect-eaters spend all day with their ‘trunks’ – their pointed snouts – in the soil, searching for insects. They live in forests and thickets and are mostly active during the day.