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Out of Africa: chameleons 'first of their kind to be born in UK'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

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Two delicate three-horned baby chameleons take their first steps balanced on cocktail sticks.

Born at Exmoor Zoo, in North Devon, the babies are roughly three centimetres long.

They spent 16 long weeks developing from an embryo and have just emerged from their leather-like egg shells.

Danny Reynolds, curator at the zoo, said: "Two things make these babies just that bit extra special.

"They are probably the first of this species ever born in captivity within UK zoos and the fact that their parents had been rescued from an illegal shipment en route to the Czech Republic.

"The Johnston's chameleon only occurs in the Western branch of the African Rift valley, the Albertine Rift, and is extremely rare in captivity."

The illegal shipment was seized by customs officers in Belgium and was due to be destroyed before the intervention of Specialist Wildlife Services in the UK, working in conjunction with UK Customs officials, in May this year. The 59 chameleons recovered were placed with zoos across the UK by the Specialist Wildlife Services.

Several other zoos have seen eggs laid but Exmoor Zoo is the first to have any hatch.

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