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Putting A New Face On The Word ‘Rodent’ Pair Of Cavies Born At Staten Island Zoo

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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — New York’s zoo population has increased by two.

As CBS 2′s John Slattery reported, the recent birth did not take place at the world-famous Bronx Zoo, but at a zoo that caters to smaller animals.

They don’t have lions, tigers, or bears at the Staten Island Zoo, but they do have leopards, howler monkeys, fennec foxes, and two baby cavies. The zoo is also home to Staten Island Chuck, and his son.

Patagonian cavies are short-tailed, rough-haired South American rodents, from Argentina and beyond.

They are cousins to the rat, but are more closely related to the pet guinea pig.

“The very interesting thing about them, they are monogamous. They stay together throughout life until one dies,” Dr. Marc Valitutto said.

The Staten Island Zoo’s population of 1,500 welcomed its newest residents on June 3. The cavies now weigh 2-lbs each and will soon look like their parents.

“In the wild they are incredibly nervous, skittish animals. Here we are hand-rearing the two babies,” Dr. Valitutto explained.

Most people don’t really know what cavies are or how to spell their name, but in a city that celebrates diversity the two new residents hope to put a new face on the term rodent.

Cavies have been near-threatened to endangered in South America, their population in the wild is declining mostly due to agriculture.

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