Pygmy Hippo

‘Little Things Mean A Lot’ at Melbourne Zoo

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Melbourne Zoo is celebrating its first Pygmy Hippopotamus calf birth since 1981!  Keepers have not had any direct contact with the calf so far, but, from their careful observations, they have been given the impression that the calf is male.

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Photo Credits: Melbourne Zoo

The birth was announced last week, and video footage of mother and calf was released. The new baby is a first offspring for mother ‘Petre’ with new mate, ‘Felix’. Petre previously produced three calves at Taronga Zoo with another mate.

Thanks to recently installed CCTV cameras, keepers were able to observe the calf’s arrival on a screen in an office adjacent to the night den where Petre had been awaiting the birth.

Petre is showing herself to be a very good and attentive mother, and keepers have observed the calf suckling and feeding at varying intervals since birth.

Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Frith, will soon attempt to weigh the calf and hopefully confirm the sex, if such can be done without causing distress to mother and baby.

The Pygmy Hippopotamus is native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, primarily Liberia, with small populations in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast. They are herbivorous, feeding on ferns, broad-leaf plants, grasses and fruits.

The Pygmy Hippo is reclusive and nocturnal, and their rainforest habitat makes it very difficult for researchers to determine exact populations. However, it is known that loss of habitat and poaching are drastically affecting their numbers in the wild, making the regional and international breeding programs even more important to ensure the future of the species.

The Pygmy Hippopotamus is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List


ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Gets Late Christmas Gift

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Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo had a late Christmas present when ‘Flora’, the Pygmy Hippo, gave birth to a much needed boy on Boxing Day.

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Pygmy-hippo-calf-(4)Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade

The Zoo’s keepers say they are especially proud of the baby’s mum, 28-year-old Flora, who has been battling cancer. Flora was featured in ITV’s documentary series ‘The Zoo’ last year, and although she is still living with a tumor in her mouth, vets say she has responded fantastically well to the treatment and the cancer did not affect her pregnancy at all.

The tiny hippo calf is a particularly welcome addition to the Zoo because there is a shortage of male Pygmy Hippos within the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.

Senior Keeper, Steve White said, “Flora’s calf was due on Christmas Day, but the little one kept us waiting until the evening of Boxing Day. We knew Flora must be going into labor because she went off her food, which never happens! After six hour labor, the calf was born, a 7 kilo, perfect miniature of his mum. Since then, the baby hippo has been happily waddling around and seems to love spending time in water. On his first weigh-in, he was so slippery it was like picking up a big bar of soap!”

“We’re delighted for Flora, who has come through a difficult year and is now proving once again to be an attentive, experienced mum. She’s contributed three calves to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme and she’ll now retire from breeding.”

Pygmy Hippos (Choeropsis liberiesis) are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and teams at international conservation charity ZSL are working in Liberia and Sierra Leone to research and protect the species.


Bouncing Baby Hippo Is Ready to Meet the Public in Portugal

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It is with great pleasure that Portugal's Zoo Santo Inácio announces the birth of a female Pygmy Hippopotamus. The tiny baby marks a big step in preserving this endangered West African species. The main causes threatening these herbivores are deforestation, hunting, agricultural land development and civil conflicts.

Just 3,000 individuals remain in the wild, and a few more than 240 in zoological parks. Zoo Santo Inácio joined this cause in 2006 by welcoming a female, Romina, and two years later, with the arrival of a male, Kibwana. The couple has lived together at the zoo for four years, and is part of an important European breeding program for endangered species (EEP), led by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA).

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Krakow Zoo Welcomes An Important Male Pygmy Hippo Calf

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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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Hip Hippo Hooray!

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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.

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Photo credit: Marcin Matuszak / Zoo Wroclaw


South Africa Welcomes Prince Harry, A Brand New Pygmy Hippo

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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!

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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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Naming Miami's Newest Arrival

The other day, we brought you news of Zoo Miami's Pygmy Hippo baby. Zookeepers are now asking the public to help choose between four names. "Nzuri", which means beautiful, "Nyumbani", meaning home, "Leona", a reference to Sierra Leone, and "Asali", meaning honey; a tribute to one of the Zoo's Hippo's which passed away last year. You can visit the zoo's survey now and cast your vote!

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Meet Kambiri the Pygmy Hippo

Taronga Zoo is celebrating the arrival of a precious Pygmy Hippo calf, the first to be reared by its mother at the Zoo in over 20 years. The female infant named, ‘Kambiri’ meaning “allow me to join this family “was born to mother ‘Petre’ and father ‘Timmy’ and discovered in the early morning of Saturday 26 June by the Zoo’s dedicated keeping staff who had been monitoring the pregnancy.

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For the next few weeks visitors will begin to catch glimpses of the newborn as it spends short periods of time exploring the exhibit with its mother.“Pygmy Hippos spend a lot of time in the water so Kambiri needs to perfect the art of swimming before it can spend long periods in the exhibit. Like all infants, they tire quickly so we will be taking things day by day.”

“We ask our visitors to be patient whilst we introduce Kambiri to the outside world, however in the coming weeks we do hope to share her with the community as much as possible. Pygmy Hippo babies are one of the cutest there is and exceptionally precious with only a few thousand individuals left in the wild.”

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The infant is the second female calf born to Petre and Timmy, following ‘Monifa’ which was born in 2008. Unfortunately despite Petre initially showing very strong mothering skills, Monifa had to be hand-reared by zoo keepers after a difficult breach birth which compromised the newborn’s ability to thrive.

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Up Close and Personal with a Pygmy Hippo

The Mokopane Biodiversity Conservation Centre was established in 1979 as a satellite of South Africa's National Zoo to promote conservation, research and education in support of native African species. Located roughly halfway between Pretoria and the famous Kruger National Park, Mokopane is part zoo, part breeding facility and part open range where a variety of African species interact in a natural environment. 

These camera phone pictures were taken specially for ZooBorns and feature Mokopane's newest little pygmy hippo, born May 28th.

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Photo credits: Mark Howitt / National Zoological Gardens of South Africa

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Plump Pygmy Hippo Calf Daydreaming

Flory, a  Pygmy Hippo born in late September at the Diergaarde in Blijdorp, Netherlands, rests close to mom. These photos and video, by lensman A.J. Haverkamp, show the infant Pygmy Hippo at only ten days old. Critically endangered in their native home of Western Africa, Pygmy Hippos thrive with proper care at zoos and most of what scientists know about this fascinating animal is derived from zoo populations.

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