Pygmy Hippo

First Pygmy Hippo in Seven Years for Taronga Zoo

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Taronga Zoo is celebrating the arrival of an endangered Pygmy Hippo calf!

The female calf was born to first-time parents Fergus and Kambiri on February 21, and she is the first of her kind born at the Zoo in nearly seven years. Taronga Zoo is also planning a competition to help choose a name for the calf.

The calf made her public debut under the watchful eye of her mother and keepers. Visitors can now begin to, hopefully, catch glimpses of the rare newborn on Taronga’s Rainforest Trail as she starts to explore outdoors and perfect the art of swimming.

“Pygmy Hippos naturally spend a lot of time in the water, so the calf is already having a great time learning to swim next to mum and even practicing holding her breath underwater,” said Keeper, Renae Moss.

“We’ve started by filling the pond to about 40 cm deep, but we’ll gradually increase the depth of the water as the little one grows in confidence.”

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4_Pygmy Hippo Calf 4_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

Weighing about five kilograms at birth, the calf is growing at a healthy pace and has begun mouthing solid foods: “The calf is absolutely thriving. She’s putting on weight every day and she’s already got little rolls of fat around her neck,” Renae continued.

A vital addition to the region’s insurance population of Pygmy Hippos, the calf is the first born at Taronga since Kambiri in June 2010.

“Kambiri is proving to be an absolute natural as a mother. She’s very attentive and a great teacher, guiding the calf as she learns to swim and showing her what foods to eat,” said Renae.

“It’s also important for the calf to learn these natural mothering behaviors, as we hope she’ll grow up to be an excellent mum herself. With as few as 2000-3000 Pygmy Hippos remaining in the wild, every little calf is important.”

Native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, the Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis) is a solitary animal that generally only comes together for breeding. Little is known about them in the wild, with the majority of research recorded about the species learned from those cared for in zoos. The species is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

“These elusive animals continue to be threatened by loss of habitat as their forest homes are logged and converted to farmland at an alarming rate. They are also vulnerable to poaching, hunting and civil unrest and their wild populations continue to decline. Protecting their natural habitat is critical in ensuring the survival of wild populations and we can all help Pygmy Hippos by choosing paper and wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council,” Renae concluded.

More great pics below the fold!

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Zoo Santo Inácio Announces New Pygmy Hippo

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Zoo Santo Inácio, in northern Portugal, announced their newest family member, a male Pygmy Hippo.

After almost nine months of pregnancy, little Mendes (named by affectionate keepers) was born weighing just over 4 kilos (9 lbs).

For several months after the birth, Mendes and his mother, Romina, were kept off-exhibit, giving them opportunity to bond. The time alone also allowed the new calf to practice swimming and learn other essential skills.

At three months old and 20 kilos heavier, Mendes and his mother can now be seen, on-exhibit, enjoying their mornings outside.

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4_ZSI.cria.hipopotamo (6)Photo Credits: Zoo Santo Inacio

 

The Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis) is a small hippopotamid, native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, primarily in Liberia, with small populations in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast.

They are reclusive and nocturnal and one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae, the other being its much larger cousin the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius).

The Pygmy Hippo displays many terrestrial adaptations, but like its larger cousin, it is semi-aquatic and relies on water to keep its skin moist and its body temperature cool. Behaviors such as mating and giving birth may occur in water or on land.

They are herbivorous, feeding on ferns, broad-leaved plants, grasses, and fruits it finds in the forests.

In captivity, Pygmy Hippos have been conceived and born in all months of the year. The gestation period ranges from 190–210 days, and usually a single young is born.

The Common Hippopotamus gives birth and mates only in the water, but Pygmy Hippos mate and give birth on both land and water. Their young can swim almost immediately. At birth, they weigh 4.5–6.2 kg (9.9–13.7 lb) with males weighing about 0.25 kg (0.55 lb) more than females. They are fully weaned between six and eight months of age (before weaning they hide in the water by themselves, when mother leaves to forage for food). Suckling occurs with the mother lying on her side.

The Pygmy Hippo is classified as “Endangered” by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The main threats to these herbivores are deforestation due to rubber plantations, palm oil and coffee; hunting for its meat and its skull (used in traditional medicine and rituals); and civil strife. The World Conservation Union estimates there are fewer than 3,000 individuals remaining in the wild.

Zoo Santo Inácio joined the cause for protecting the Pygmy Hippo in 2006 with the receipt of a female, Romina, and two years later, with the arrival of a male, the Kibwana. The breeding couple entered an important European Programme for Endangered Species Breeding (EEP), led by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA).

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Endangered Pygmy Hippo Born at Bristol Zoo

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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.

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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.”

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San Diego Zoo Welcomes Pygmy Hippo

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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

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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.

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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.

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‘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