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Rats! This new zoo specimen is cute!

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Sure, he looks cute, but he’s actually a rat. And he may not even be a he, either.

The Prospect Park Zoo had a bit of a coming out party this week for its newest resident, an endangered Malagasy rat, who was born in April. The pup has still not been examined to determine its gender (how hard could that be? Pretty hard when you’re a RAT!), but dad Armand and mom Vonjy are said to be proud as rats can be.

Now, before you start making more rat jokes, you should know that all three Malagasy rats — they’re mammals, you know, so show some respect — are members of a severely endangered species. Back home in Madagascar, feral dogs prey on them, and their low birth rate (they have kids at about the same rate as white Europeans!) doesn’t exactly replenish the population.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, one of the many city cultural institutions that avoided threatened budget cuts by only the hair on a rat’s back this week, has been working with Madagascar officials to save forests where these cute little rats live.

It’s all for a good cause, the society said in a statement.

“These mammals are very endearing,” the statement said.

Maybe, but they’re still rats.

Prospect Park Zoo [450 Flatbush Ave., between Empire Boulevard and Eastern Parkway in Prospect Park, (718) 399-7339]. Open every day.

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Chris from Flatbush says:
Uh oh...I think some politically insensitive copy got by the editor and into print: "...(they have kids at about the same rate as white Europeans!)"

Rework that a bit, to cover any other race or non-Caucasian continent and you've got your own Letterman-like situation.

Chris
June 18, 2009, 5:05 pm

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