March 1, 2009

Elephant shrew’s birth a mystery at zoo

The National Zoo says an elephant shrew was born and resided at the Washington tourist site for several weeks before zoo staff finally noticed it.

The zoo said in a statement that Small Mammal House workers did not know it had been born until they saw three elephant shrews in the exhibit instead of two, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The infant shrew, which mammal house keepers estimate was likely born sometime in late January, has been enjoying a steady diet of crickets since being spied by employees, the zoo said. The animals are known for remaining out of view for several weeks after being born.

Elephant shrews are small mammals named for the pachyderm because of their long snout. They are not true members of the shrew family and are considered to be a close relative of the aardvark.