These baby prairie dogs, otherwise known as ground squirrels, have finally been spotted frolicking at the world’s oldest zoo as the mercury finally hots up after a recent cold spell.
Schoenbrunn Zoo, which is located in the grounds of the former imperial summer palace in the Austrian capital of Vienna, is together with the palace the biggest tourist attraction in the country, attracting millions of visitors every year.
A zoo spokesman said that their black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are their most popular attraction, with many visitors turning up only to visit the adorable family, especially now that their babies are emerging from the underground tunnels built by their parents to enjoy the sunshine.
When the young animals were born at the end of April,, they only weighed around 15 grammes , and not only did they have no fur but they were also blind and deaf.
Zoo Director Dagmar Schratter said: “That is why they stay underground with their mother.”
But they are bigger now and no longer dependent on mum to supply them with food, and already tucking into the grass and other vegetables placed in their enclosure by keepers.
Their natural habitat is in North America, where they form close family groups that eventually become huge colonies.
This footage shows the cute baby prairie dogs tussling and playing, adorably sniffing one another, with Schratter adding: “In order to make sure they know who their family members are, they constantly sniff each other.”
The Ananova page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.