Official visitor website for Leicestershire

Snowy surprise: vicugna baby, named Jack Frost, born at Twycross Zoo!

Christmas has come early for Twycross Zoo, which is delighted to announce the birth of Jack Frost, a male vicugna (a member of the camel family), the latest zoo baby to join the 500 animals already living at the Leicestershire zoo. Visitors can now see Jack exploring his new snow-covered surroundings while mother Maxine and father Felix keep a close eye on their new offspring.

Born on 6 December 2017, Jack is yet another success story for the zoo’s breeding programmes, which has already seen the birth of two endangered snow leopard twins, two critically endangered orangutans, a northern white-cheeked gibbon and a Michie’s tufted deer fawn, to name a few, all of which were born at Twycross during 2017.

Vicugnas are thought to be wild ancestors of the alpaca. Their fleece is pale and fluffy, which sadly has made them a target for poachers in the wild. New born vicugnas are known as ‘crias’ which comes from the Spanishword cría, meaning "baby". The species is native to South America, and are found in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile and live in herds consisting of a dominant male with females and their offspring. When male vicugnas are weaned from their mothers they often form large herds of bachelors of up to 150 individuals.

Jack’s parents both arrived at Twycross Zoo in 2006, with mum Maxine arriving in the UK from Belfast Zoo and dad Felix from Miejski Ogród Zoologiczny in Łódź, Poland. To date, the pair have produced eight crias together, making them both excellent and experienced parents. Jack is the eighth baby between the pair, following the last birth of Wurzel who was also born at Twycross in 2016. Jack follows siblings Wurzel, Flora, Guy, Oka, Bayley, Humphrey and Cherry who are now all part of national and European healthy breeding programmes.

Dr Matt Hartley, Director of Life Sciences says, “At Twycross Zoo many of our species are part of the European Endangered Breeding Programme, which includes our vicugna family, who continue to be a great success story. At first Jack was a little wobbly on his feet, but he is getting stronger with each day. It of course helps that Maxine is a very experienced mother and she and Felix have formed an excellent partnership while they have been at Twycross Zoo, so we are delighted they have had another safe and healthy pregnancy, and that Jack is starting to thrive.”