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For zoo animals, Madrid maternity ward is tops

The maternity wing of Madrid's zoo is boasting of yet another world record, only a year after last year's delivery of twin pandas. This time the delivery room became a snakepit. The zoo's prized horned viper from Gabon gave birth Tuesday to 71 baby vipers - a world record, according to the Madrid zoo authorities. Normally, vipers have a maximum of a mere 20 offspring.

The serpentine love story began four and a half months ago, says veterinarian Alfonso Molina who assisted in the prolific delivery, with a slithery 24-hour ritual snake dance by the two horned vipers. This past week Dr. Molina affirmed proudly that both mother and her 63 babies (eight perished soon after birth) are doing well.

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