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.
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.