Pygmy Hippo

Endangered Pygmy Hippo Born at Bristol Zoo


A tiny baby Pygmy Hippo has been born at the Bristol Zoo Gardens in the UK. The youngster is three weeks old and joins parents Sirana and Nato in the Zoo’s Hippo House.



4_BristolZooPygmyHippoPhoto Credits: Bristol Zoo Gardens

The calf, which is yet to be sexed, currently spends time exploring the exhibit and using the heated pool. To enable Nato and Sirana time to settle into their parenting duties, the hippos had remained off-exhibit, but the family can now be seen for brief periods of time at the Hippo House.

Lynsey Bugg, Bristol Zoo’s Assistant Curator of Mammals said, “The calf is looking very strong and it certainly feeds well. Like any youngster, it wants to be close to Mum at all times and is often seen by her side. It spends short periods of time in the water but is not quite as good at swimming as its parents, so we often see Mum, Sirana, guiding her little one back into the shallow water. Young hippos tire easily.”

The Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis) is threatened in the wild. In Liberia, destruction of forests surrounding the Sapo National Park by logging companies is damaging one of the few remaining strongholds for the Pygmy Hippo. Bristol Zoo Gardens is part of an international captive breeding programme for the Pygmy Hippo.

Lynsey continued, “The European programme is a well-established and very successful programme and our male, Nato, is a genetically important animal; by default, so will be his offspring.”

Continue reading "Endangered Pygmy Hippo Born at Bristol Zoo" »

San Diego Zoo Welcomes Pygmy Hippo


The San Diego Zoo recently released a photo of a tiny Pygmy Hippo, nestled in straw a day after his birth. The calf was born November 11th and is an important addition to the population of the world’s smallest species of hippo. This is the first surviving Pygmy Hippo birth at the San Diego Zoo in more than a decade.

The tiny youngster, weighing just 12 pounds, 2 ounces (5.5 kg), was born to its mother, Francesca, in the early hours of the morning. Mom and calf are doing well, and they are taking some quiet time in a barn, out of the public eye, until keepers think the youngster is ready to try the larger pool available for swimming in the main exhibit area.

Photo Credit: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo

The Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaptrotodon liberiensis) is a species from the forests of West Africa.  Reclusive and nocturnal, it is one of only two extant species in the Hippopotamidae family (the other being the larger cousin: Hippopotamus amphibious) Like its larger cousin, the Pygmy Hippo is semi-aquatic. It is herbivorous and feeds on ferns, broad-leaf plants, grasses, and fruits.

Gestation for the Pygmy Hippo ranges from 190 to 210 days, and usually results in the birth of a single calf. Common hippos mate and give birth only in water, but the Pygmy Hippo will mate and give birth on land or water.  Young Pygmy Hippos can swim almost immediately after birth. They are fully weaned between six and eight months of age.

The Pygmy Hippo is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There were estimated to be about 2,000 left in the world a decade ago, when the last population survey was done. Since then, political unrest, habitat destruction and wildlife trafficking in their native habitats are likely to have reduced the wild population to critically low numbers.

Pygmy Hippo Calf Gets in the Swim

A baby Pygmy Hippopotamus born in early June at the Melbourne Zoo is learning how to swim under the watchful eye of his mother Petre.

Pygmy hippo calf - Mark KeenanPhoto Credit:  Mark Keenan

Keepers named the calf Obi, which means “heart” in a Nigerian language. You first met Obi here on ZooBorns last month.

Obi started out swimming in the nursery pool, which is shallow, but quickly graduated to the deep end of the exhibit’s main pool.  Petre is a very attentive mother and makes sure that Obi never strays too far.

Weighing only about 11 pounds at birth, Obi has gained about a pound each day since he was born. 

Pygmy Hippos are classified as Endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Because they live in dense rain forests in western Africa, not much is known about the wild population.

See more photos of Obi below.

Continue reading "Pygmy Hippo Calf Gets in the Swim" »

‘Little Things Mean A Lot’ at Melbourne Zoo


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.




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


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.


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


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).



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.




See more photos below the fold...

Continue reading "Krakow Zoo Welcomes An Important Male Pygmy Hippo Calf" »

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

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.


Read more beneath the fold.

Continue reading "South Africa Welcomes Prince Harry, A Brand New Pygmy Hippo" »

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!





Check below the fold to view more images of the calf.

Continue reading "Naming Miami's Newest Arrival" »