Hot Fun in the Summertime for Hippo Calf

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While it is definitely winter for a lot of us, ‘Kibibi’, the 15 week old Hippo calf, is testimony to the fact that it is summer in Australia. Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo have been treating Kibibi to a cooling hose down in the summer heat, while her mother, ‘Cuddles’, enjoys her morning meal.

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Hippo calf enjoying being hosed_December2014_MT (44)Photo Credits: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“Kibibi really enjoys being hosed down just like her mum. I think the sensation of the water spraying over her is a real treat for her,” said Keeper, Carolene Magner.

“We have been working hard to develop a relationship with Kibibi, just like the one we have with her mother, so that she trusts us. Hosing her down is just one way we are working to build a bond with her as she continues to thrive,” said Carolene.

Kibibi is continuing to grow and develop rapidly. She is now well over double her birth weight and growing in confidence.

“She is becoming more confident and will sometimes stay in the shallow water on her own while Cuddles comes out to feed, but most of the time they are spotted side by side in their pond together,” said Carolene.

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Little Hippo is Taronga's First in 10 Years

Hippo calf by Anthony Dorian (15)Taronga Western Plains Zoo is excited to announce the birth of a Hippo calf – the first in more than 10 years – on September 11 to mother Cuddles and father Mana.

Hippo calf by Anthony Dorian (13)

Hippo calf by Anthony Dorian (7)
Hippo calf by Anthony Dorian (18)Photo Credit:  Anthony Dorian

Because this birth is the first for Cuddles and Mana, the calf represents a new genetic bloodline for the species and will be important for the zoo-managed population of Hippos.

The calf weighs an estimated 88 pounds (40 kg). It is yet to be named and keepers have not determined the calf's gender, becuase Cuddles is being very protective.

“Hippos nurse their young underwater and whilst we haven’t seen this behaviour, from everything we have witnessed the pair is bonding really well,” said Hippo Keeper Carolene Magner.

Hippos most of their days in the water, feeding on vegetation.  For now, the calf stays close to its mother’s side.

Guests staying on the zoo’s Zoofari Lodge were able to see the calf just a few minutes after its birth.

Hippos once ranged throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but are now restricted to smaller, more fragmented habitats.  They are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the Hippo calf below.

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Tiny Hippo is Big News for Zoo Basel

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It's been 14 years since a baby Pygmy Hippopotamus was last born at Basel Zoo in Switzerland. Baby Lani came into the world on March 18, when it was still a little cold for her outside. Now, she joins her mother, nine year-old Ashaki, in the zoo's outdoor enclosure on warm, sunny days. Lani is one of about 135 Pygmy Hippopotamuses in the European Endangered Species Programme and is the seventy-fourth baby hippo to be born at Basel Zoo.

Lani was born early in the morning and the animal keepers were able to observe the quick, trouble-free birth. The bright-eyed youngster was nursing within an hour. When she was born, Lani was the size of a rabbit and weighed about 11.5 pounds (5.2 kg). Since then she has been put on the scales every day. Her weight gain offers information about whether she is nursing regularly. At the last measurement she weighed in at already more than 35 pounds (16 kg). Mother Ashaki currently weighs around 440 pounds (200 kg).

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For the present, Ashaki and Lani can only be seen in the outdoor enclosure between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm on warm, sunny days, alternating with the males. The water is still very chilly and the little one should not be allowed to get cold. Lani likes to hide in the bushes, so zoo visitors currently need a little luck and patience if they wish to spot her.

Lani has been very active from the start and mother Ashaki provides her with exemplary care. The little one has now begun to show some interest in solid food and nibbles on leaves. 

See and read more after the fold.

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A Pygmy Hippo Calf Makes Waves at Bristol Zoo Gardens

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A Pygmy Hippo has been born at Bristol Zoo Gardens in England! The calf, born in early February, has been named Winnie. She was born to mom Sirana and father Nato, and lives with them on exhibit at the zoo. She spends her time eating, sleeping, and swimming around the exhibit’s heated pool.

Baby hippos are usually born underwater and can swim almost immediately. However, mom still keeps a watchful eye on her calf. 

Assistant Curator of Mammals Lynsey Bugg says, “Young hippos tire easily and Sirana will quite often guide her baby into shallow water or bring her out of the pool. Sirana is very protective and doesn’t let her stay in deep water for too long."

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Photo credits: Katie Horrocks (1-3); Western Daily Press (4,5) 

Pygmy Hippos are much smaller than their big cousins the Common Hippopotamus, measuring just under three feet (.9 m) tall at the shoulder as adults. They are well adapted to aquatic life, with a nose and ears can be closed underwater. Shy and nocturnal, they live in the forests and swamps of West Africa. 

In the wild, females usually breed once every two years. A single calf is born after a gestation period of about six months. A calf weighs between 10 to 14 pounds (4.5 and 6.2 kg) and is unable to walk very far at first. The mother conceals it in thick cover and visits to feed it. After three months, the youngster begins to eat vegetation.

The Pygmy Hippo is threatened in the wild, where it is thought less than 2,000 survive. In Liberia, destruction of forests surrounding the Sapo National Park by logging companies is damaging one of the few remaining strongholds for this species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Pygmy Hippo as Endangered.

Bristol Zoo Gardens is part of an international captive breeding program for the Pygmy Hippo. Buggs says, “The European program is a well-established and very successful program and our male, Nato, is a genetically important animal; by default, so will be his offspring."

Baby Hippo Takes a Dip at Whipsnade Zoo

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A baby Hippo made a splashing debut at Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Whipsnade Zoo by taking a dip in the public pool for the very first time.

The five-week-old Common Hippo calf had been snuggled up to mum, Lola, in their private dens, before making its first appearance in the big pool today.

Born just after 9 a.m. on December 11, the tiny tot is Lola and dad, Hoover’s, second calf. The calf is thought to be a little girl, but its sex is yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, keepers have nicknamed the youngster Nelly.

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5 hippoPhoto credit: ZSL's Whipsnade Zoo

See a video:


Zookeeper Steve White said, “After a few tentative steps on the water’s edge, Nelly was soon enjoying paddling around in the pool and blowing bubbles under the surface as she explored her new surroundings.

“She’s extremely playful and inquisitive and loves nothing more than watching what’s going on around her. She was standing and suckling just an hour after she was born, and mum’s been doing a brilliant job really helping her to thrive.” 

Born after an eight month gestation period, baby Nelly will one day weigh a whopping 1.4 tons (1400kg) when she’s fully grown, and reach up to around five feet four inches (1.6 meters) in height. 

Classed as 'Vulnerable' by the Internation Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, and under threat from poaching and habitat loss in the wild, Nelly is a much welcomed addition to the European Studbook for Common Hippos.

Tiny Hippo Goes for First Swim at Marwell Zoo

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On December 13, keepers at Marwell Zoo in the UK discovered that Wendy the Pygmy Hippo had given birth! The calf is a healthy female who certainly lives up to the 'pygmy' name, weighing in at just 13 pounds (6 kg) and standing just 6 inches (15 cm) tall at birth. After a public vote, the calf has been named Gloria.

Born to 18-year-old Wendy and Dad, Nato, who stayed at Marwell Zoo over the summer, Gloria is an important addition to the European Endangered Breeding Programme (EEP).

Team Leader for Small Mammals Kevin Saunders says, “We think 'Gloria' really suits our new arrival. We wanted something that will fit well with her mum’s name ‘Wendy’ and we think they are great together!

“Gloria has now had a swim with Mum and we are very happy with how it went. Keepers will always stand by to make sure she doesn’t get into trouble, but Wendy is very experienced and keeps a close eye on her at all times.”

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Gloria explores her enclosure with mom:


Gloria goes for her first swim:


In the wild Pygmy Hippos are elusive animals, living in the swamps of western Africa. Pygmy Hippos, and their larger cousins, the Common Hippopotamus, play an important part in maintaining the ecosystems of the African wetlands and the surrounding grasslands and forests.

According to the zoo, ongoing deforestation in their natural habitat, combined with civil unrest, are significant threats to Pygmy Hippos. Their numbers have steadily declined and the species is now listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. It is estimated that the population is likely to continue to decline by 20% over the course of the next 20 years.

Hippo Family Takes a Mud Bath at Werribee Open Range Zoo

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Werribee Open Range Zoo in Australia welcomed a new baby Hippo on November 18, born to proud mum Brindabella. Both mom and calf are doing well, but the first few weeks are a critical time, so keepers and vets will be monitoring both closely.

New mother Hippos are very protective, so keepers have yet to weigh the calf or determine its sex. The new calf is likely to weigh between 44 to 88 pounds (20 to 40 kg) but when fully grown could weigh as much as two tons.

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In the wild, expectant Hippo mothers isolate themselves from the other hippos and seek privacy to bond with their young. This is why Brindabella was moved to a protected, off-display birthing suite prior to the birth and she will remain off display for several weeks as the calf gets bigger and stronger. 

Hippo calves can nurse underwater and are even born underwater, swimming to the surface themselves.  Calves will hitch a ride on mom's back for a while if the water is too deep or they get tired. 

Pygmy Hippo Calf Learns to Swim at Edinburgh Zoo

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Congratulations to Ellen and Otto, the latest Pygmy Hippo parents at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland! The calf, a healthy female, was born on October 27.  

The calf has been named Adana by her keepers, which is a West African name meaning ‘her father’s daughter’. For now, the little one is keeping warm indoors with mom. Although she is still a little shy, Adana has just started to venture into the indoor pool.

Lorna Hughes, team leader for primates and hoofstock at Edinburgh Zoo, says, “A very maternal animal, Ellen has proven herself to be a fantastic parent to her offspring. Baby Adana is just over a week old now and is feeding well from mum. Growing in confidence every day, Adana has ventured into the water under the watchful eye of mum. Even though Pygmy Hippos are incredible swimmers, it’s a little known fact the Hippo calves need to be taught how to swim by their mothers."

Native to West Africa, Pygmy Hippos are an Endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, likely with fewer than 3,000 left in the wild. Populations are declining rapidly due to habitat destruction caused by logging, farming and human settlement. Pressures from wars in the Hippos’ native range are another dire threat. Sadly, Pygmy Hippos are also increasingly being threatened by bushmeat hunters. Edinburgh Zoo has successfully been part of the European Breeding Program for this species for many years, with 18 offspring successfully reared at the zoo since the 1970s.

Ellen was born at Edinburgh Zoo in 2005, named after yachtswoman Ellen McArthur, and this is her third female youngster born to dad Otto. Leishan was born in 2009 and Eve on New Year’s Eve in 2011. 

Visitors can see baby Adana in the indoor Hippo house with Ellen, while Otto and big sister Eve are in their outdoor enclosure during the day.

It's a Boy! Baby Hippo Born at Zoo Ostrava

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This healthy baby Hippo was born at the Czech Republic's Ostrava Zoo on June 3. The first weeks of a little Hippo's life is mostly spent in the water but then it takes its first trips on the shore. This is mostly done with mom to look for food, but it is also a chance to explore its surroundings. During one of these kinds of on-land trips, zoo staff had a chance to determine the baby's sex -- and it's a boy! Since then, he has gotten stronger and much heavier. 

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Photo Credit: Zoo Ostrava

His mother, 36-year-old Katka, is quite experienced, having already raised 10 babies. His father is Honza, a 46-year-old who is the oldest hippo father in Europe! In total, Ostrava Zoo has reared 18 Hippo offspring throughout its history -- this newest baby boy is the nineteenth. 

Hippo Birth Goes Swimmingly at Zoo Basel

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On July 17, a Hippopotamus was born at Zoo Basel in Switzerland. The little one was born in the ditch of the outdoor enclosure, and mother Helvetia, 22 years old, immediately nudged it towards the bank with her nose, where it was able to rest. It has not yet been given a name, as it is still unclear whether the baby is male or female.

At the beginning of the day on Wednesday, the animal keeper suspected that the time for the birth was near. Helvetia was restless, but still headed to the outdoor enclosure to feed. Shortly after 9 a.m., a tiny head suddenly emerged from the water. The father, 23-year-old Wilhelm, made constant attempts to take a peek at the little one, but Helvetia was having none of it: if he came too close, she would shoo him away with an unambiguous clip round the head. Experience has shown that this will abate over time, and in a few weeks, visitors will be able to see the whole family bathing together.

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Photo credits: Zoo Basel

The little one has to dive underwater in order to drink from its mother, resurfacing every 30 seconds to take a breath. The baby weighs between 65 and 110 pounds (30 and 50 kilograms) and is currently feeding solely on its mother’s milk, and will only begin to eat solid food in a few weeks’ time. As is common for the vast animals that are Hippopotamuses, the pregnancy was scarcely visible. However, shortly before the birth the mother’s udders began to swell, and Helvetia and Wilhelm started to keep their distance from each other. The little one is Wilhelm and Helvetia’s tenth child. Older brother Habari, now three-years-old, has been living in Pont-Scorff, France, since June 2012.