Krakow Zoo Welcomes An Important Male Pygmy Hippo Calf


Last month an unusual baby was born into the Krakow Zoo family. On April 16th Pygmy Hippo parents Quinces and Rafa gave birth to their third calf, a baby boy. Statistically, Pygmy hippos born in captivity skew 60% female, making the birth of a male calf particularly significant for future potential breeding efforts. In the 12 months preceding the birth, only four Pygmy Hippo calves were born in all of Europe, and three of those were female. In early may the whole family made its public debut. This endangered species  lives in humid forests and along river banks in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire.




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Rare Pygmy Hippo Baby Debuts at Gladys Porter Zoo

Baby hippo

With chubby cheeks and an upturned nose, a baby Pygmy Hippopotamus may look more like a video game character than a real animal.  But this male baby, born on February 22 at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, is an important addition to the population of this critically endangered species.

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Photo Credit:  P. Scanlan (1), Gladys Porter Zoo (2,3,4,5)

The male calf, who will be named in a soon-to-be-announced contest, made his public debut alongside his nine-year-old mother last week.  Zoo staffers report that the baby rarely strays far from his mother as he explores his surroundings. 

Pygmy Hippos are native to West Africa, where they live secretive lives in the deepest jungles.  Found only in small pockets of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria, Pygmy Hippos are about half as tall and a quarter of the weight of their cousins the Common Hippos.  Pygmy Hippos spend the day submerged in rivers, emerging at night to eat ferns, fruits, and leaves.  To mark their territories, they wave their tails while defecating to spread feces as far as possible. 

There are fewer than 3,000 Pygmy Hippos remaining in the wild, and little is known about their habits.  Though not intensely hunted, Pygmy Hippos are losing habitat to agriculture and unsustainable forest logging.  Programs like the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums seek to maintain genetically diverse captive populations of Pygmy Hippos and many other endangered species.   

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Are Those Hippos Smiling? Lowry Park Zoo's Newest Baby Gets Her Name


You may have read about the naming contest for the new baby Pygmy Hippopotamus at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo HERE, on ZooBorns. Just a little over one and a half months old, this little girl received a name for Christmas. This rare calf will be called “Zola,” an African name meaning “to love,” as chosen by the Zoo’s online community with more than 3,100 unique votes cast. The vote was close with a one point margin separating the top two names. Zola received 43.5 percent, followed by “Zuri” with 42 percent and “Zawadi” with 14.3 percent.

Zola was born November 15 to second time mother “Zsa Zsa,” only the second hippo birth in the Zoo’s history (the first occurring in 2008). Classified as Endangered, the Pygmy Hippos at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo are one of more than 90 species in the Zoo’s Species Survival Plans, cooperative breeding and conservation programs managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to carefully maintain a healthy, self-sustaining captive population.   

Below you'll see Zola covered in hay one morning, the equivalent of bed head. She takes a dip to get cleaned off until Mom clearly has something to say about it...

Hip hay

Hip dip

Hippo swim

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Photo Credit: Lowry Park Zoo

Help Name Hippo Baby Born at Lowry Park Zoo

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Two weeks ago this baby Pygmy Hippopotamus was born at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The female calf, born November 15 to second-time mother Zsa Zsa, is only the second in the Zoo’s history (the first occurring in 2008). Animal care team members have continually monitored the newborn, who is nursing routinely and has “filled out” just like she should be. And now you can vote to name her, by following the link here, just below her pictures. 

Births are few in the managed population among institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), with this calf bringing the total number of animals to just 55. Pygmy hippos are extremely rare in the wild, numbering only a few thousand, so this birth is very important to her species.

The pygmy hippos at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo are one of more than 90 species in the zoo’s SSPs, cooperative breeding and conservation programs managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to carefully maintain a healthy, self-sustaining captive population.  

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Photo Credit: Lowry Park Zoo

The Zoo has launched a naming contest on its holiday web site, Wild Wonderland. Click that link to vote. Several African names starting with the letter Z in honor of mother hippo Zsa Zsa have been selected. The name that receives the highest number of votes through Monday, December 3, will be declared the winner:

  • ·         Zawadi -- “gift”
  • ·         Zola -- “to love”
  • ·         Zuri -- “beautiful”

Of all the entries for the winning name, TWO voters will be selected at random to win a family 4-pack of Zoo tickets, in honor of this second calf born at the Zoo.

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Go Hippo Go! Pygmy Hippo Born at Lowry Park Zoo

TLPZ Pygmy Hippo born 2

A rare Pygmy Hippopotamus was born November 15 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to second-time mother Zsa Zsa. The birth is only the second in the Zoo’s history and is a significant conservation milestone for the managed population.

“The birth of this rare and endangered nocturnal forest species marks only the 55th individual in the managed population within North America and underlines the importance of our conservation efforts with this species.,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, vice president of animal science and conservation.  “With fewer than 3,000 Pygmy Hippos in the wild, each birth is vital if we have any hope of saving this truly unique species.”

TLPZ Pygmy Hippo Born 3

TLPZ Pygmy Hippo born

The zoo’s animal care team has monitored Zsa Zsa and the yet-to-be named female newborn since birth.  The mother appears to exhibiting appropriate behaviors and the calf and has been seen nursing routinely.  At birth, calves are about 20 inches long and weigh about 10 pounds.  Adults average 350-550 pounds, stand about three feet tall at the shoulder, and are four to six feet in length. 

The wild population of Pygmy Hippos is considered endangered.  The species is mainly confined to the lowland forests, swamps, and riverbanks of Liberia, with small numbers in neighboring countries. 

The zoo is holding an online naming contest for the baby.  Voters can choose from three African names starting with the letter Z in honor of mother Hippo Zsa Zsa. The name that receives the most votes through Monday, December 3, will be declared the winner:

  • Zawadi -- “gift”
  • Zola -- “to love”
  • Zuri -- “beautiful”

Photo Credits:  Lowry Park Zoo


Hip Hippo Hooray!


On September 8th, Zoo Wroclaw welcomed a baby Pygmy Hippopotamus. This is the third calf for parents Elpunia and Carlos. The female calf stays close to her mother and has been seen trying to eat veggies and leaves. According to zoo officials, the small but fearless hippo took a bath in a swimming pool during her first day of life. Pygmy Hippos are endangered due to habitat destruction. It is estimated that fewer than 3,000 remain in the wild.




Photo credit: Marcin Matuszak / Zoo Wroclaw

Baby Pygmy Hippo a Big Splash at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Hippo cu

She may be tiny, but this rare Pygmy Hippo is making a big splash at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Born eight weeks ago, the little calf named Georgina is enjoying exploring her new surroundings, paddling around her heated indoor pool alongside mom. The youngster is the second born to parents Flora and Tapon. She arrived just 18 months after the birth of their son Sapo, who was the first male Pygmy Hippo to be born in Europe.

The new baby is an important addition to the European Endangered Species Program and for the conservation of this species worldwide. Pygmy Hippos are considered Threatened. In the wild their numbers have dwindled to less than 3,000. The species is part of ZSL’s Edge of Existence program – a global conservation effort dedicated to threatened animal species which have a unique evolutionary history. 

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Hippo - mom. M Holden
Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade

Africa section team leader, Mark Holden, said, “Like the name hippopotamus – which means water horse – suggests, Georgina enjoys taking a dip, paddling around, and blowing bubbles under the water. Flora’s a star mum and is really helping the new calf to thrive.”


South Africa Welcomes Prince Harry, A Brand New Pygmy Hippo


In the early hours of last Thursday morning, The Cango Wildlife Ranch in South Africa welcomed a new little fresh-faced baby. Hilda and Herbert, the Pygmy Hippopotamus pair had successfully mated and gifted the ranch with a beautiful 5.1kg healthy baby boy named Harry.

Hilda's water broke last Wednesday afternoon, creating much excitement and anticipation on the ranch. Immediately Hilda and Herbert were separated, making it easier for staff to observe Hilda. The Hippo pond was drained as well to eliminate the risk of her giving birth in the water. Ranch Director, Rob Hall, and Reptile Curator, Neal Martin monitored Hilda throughout Wednesday night...quietly watching her from a safe distance. After a long and uncomfortable night Rob and Neal dozed off just after 5h30 and awoke just less than an hour later, only to discover that Hilda had just given birth! They quietly observed the mother and baby for some time. Hilda was clearly exhausted!








Photo credits: Cango Wildlife Reserve

The Pygmy Hippopotamus' wild population is classified as critically endangered. There are fewer than 3000 left in the wild. They hail from West Africa, mainly confined to Liberia, with small numbers in the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. So for Cango Wildlife Ranch, from Oudtshoorn South Africa, to successfully breed another endangered species is a very proud moment for all involved.


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Baby Pygmy Hippo Takes Her First Steps Outdoors

Mom and baby

A Baby Pygmy Hippo named Eve was the last birth of 2011 for Scotland's Edinburgh Zoo, with mom Ellen giving birth right on New Year’s Eve. Mom and baby seem to have a really strong bond. An excellent parent, Ellen gave birth to her first calf, another girl called Leishan, in 2009. Eve is a little shy and tends to stick close to her. Just this week something new happened -- the little one started venturing into her outdoor enclosure from the cozy pygmy hippo house, under the protective gaze of her mother.

Baby Eve grows in confidence every day, having tackled swimming lessons from mom just a few days after she was born. Surprisingly, given their love of water, pygmy hippos have to be taught how to swim.Very strong swimmers, Pygmy hippos are native to West Africa, and can often be spotted paddling around and making a splash in their enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo. Perfectly adapted to this love of the water, they have muscular valves that close their ears and nostrils when submerged.

Donald Gow, senior primate and hoofstock keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “Pygmy hippos are endangered in the wild and numbers are declining, so it’s fantastic that Edinburgh Zoo has such a natural mom like Ellen. She’s got great maternal instincts."


Photo Credits: Edinburgh Zoo

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Baby Hula, The Hippo, Makes a Splash!


A baby Hippo has made its debut splash in the public pool at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Born on September 14 2011, and weighing in at a hefty 90 pounds (40kg), the baby has so far been staying with mum in their private dens, but last month made its first appearance in the big pool. The “tiny” tot is thought to be a little girl, but its sex is yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, keepers have nicknamed the youngster Hula – an abbreviation of dad’s name, Hoover, and mum’s, Lola. Zookeeper Mark Holden said: “We’re really excited by this new arrival at the Zoo, especially as both mum and dad are first-time parents - and Lola seems besotted with her new arrival.”





“After taking a few tentative steps on the water’s edge, baby Hula was encouraged into the pool by mum, and is now enjoying blowing bubbles under the surface and paddling around by herself”. Born after a 240-day gestation period baby Hula will one day weigh approx. 3090 lbs (1400kg) when she’s fully grown, and reach up to 1.6 metres in height.  Classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and under threat from poaching and habitat loss in the wild, Hula is a much welcomed addition to the European Studbook for common Hippos.