Hippo

Tiny Hippo is Big News for Zoo Basel

4 hippo

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).

3 hippo

1 hippo

5 hippoPhoto credit: Zoo Basel

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.

Continue reading "Tiny Hippo is Big News for Zoo Basel" »


A Pygmy Hippo Calf Makes Waves at Bristol Zoo Gardens

3 hippo
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."

1 hippo

5 hippo

2 hippo

4 hippo
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

1 hippo

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.

2 hippo

3 hippo

4 hippo

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

1 hippo

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.”

4 hippo

3 hippo

2 hippoPhoto credit: Marwell Zoo / Tony Gardner (1)

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

Hippo 1

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.

Hippo 2Photo credit: Werribee Open Range Zoo

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

1 hippoPhoto credit: Edinburgh Zoo

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

Hippo hero

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. 

Hippo bums

Hippo side

Hippo 4
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

Hippo 1

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.

Hippo 2

Hippo 4

Hippo 3
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.


Krakow Zoo Welcomes An Important Male Pygmy Hippo Calf

Hip4

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.

_dsc7394m

Hip7

Hip3

See more photos below the fold...

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


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.

Baby hippo2

Baby hippo4

Baby hippo3

Hippo2
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.   

Related articles