Christmas arrival offers 'ray of hope' for endangered species
The arrival of an "unexpected Christmas gift" has offered a "ray of hope" to an endangered species, according to staff at an aquarium.
The male Henle's river ray was born on 15 December at Bolton Aquarium to one of the institution's two females.
A spokesman said the arrival was a surprise, though "we spotted signs of mating in August and September".
It is the first time the aquarium's rays, which are a threatened species in the wild, have successfully bred.
The baby ray, which has not been named yet, was only about 4ins (12cm) diameter at birth.
Due to its size, the fish has been moved into a rearing tank and will not be reintroduced into the council-run aquarium's main tank for six weeks.
The spokesman said baby rays were not cared for by their parents and "survive for the first week on a yolk sac and then feed on small amounts of mashed up prawn, worm and fish".
Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh said it was "a very special arrival - just in time for Christmas".
"This is a great conservation success for our aquarium - an endangered species has been successfully bred, which contributes to global conservation efforts."