Image Credit: Video by Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

Rare pygmy hippo born at Taronga Zoo

  • BY AG Staff |
  • March 17, 2017

An endangered pygmy hippo calf has been born at Sydney's Taronga Zoo for the first time in seven years.

NATIVE TO THE SWAMPS and forests of West Africa, the world's newest pygmy hippo has arrived at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, part of an 'insurance population' aimed at conserving the endangered species.

The female calf was born on 21 February weighing just 5kg, but made her public debut in her enclosure today, where visitors can catch glimpses of the baby hippo starting to explore the outdoors and improve her swimming skills alongside mum.

pygmy hippo

Image: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

pygmy hippo

Image: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

Keepers say 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,” said zoo keeper Renae Moss.

The last pygmy hippo to be born at the zoo was Kambiri, the mother of the yet-to-be-named calf, back in 2010.

pygmy hippo

Image: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

pygmy hippo

Image: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

“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 behaviours, 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,” she added.

pygmy hippo

Image: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

pygmy hippo

Image: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

Pygmy hippos are solitary animals that generally only come together for breeding. However little is known about the rare species in the wild, with most of what we know learned from those in captivity.

The pygmy hippo is threatened by loss of habitat as well as poaching, hunting and civil unrest.

"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,” said Renae.

Taronga said it will announce a competition to help choose a name for the calf.

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