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Pygmy Hippo at San Diego Zoo

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San Diego Zoo has announced the birth of endangered pygmy hippopotamus at the zoo. This is the first successful birth in more than three decades. A 4-year-old pygmy hippo at the zoo, Mabel gave birth to a 12-pound male calf. The birth was announced on Friday by the zoo. This was in recognition of Endangered Species Day and because the calf has been deemed healthy by animal experts at the zoo. The calf hasn’t been named, but the zoo said it stood, walked and followed its mother around within just a few hours of its birth.

The pygmy hippo is only half as tall as the hippopotamus and weighs less than 1/4 of a full sized hippopotamus. Adult pygmy hippos reach 70-80 cm in height and are believed to have diverged from the common hippo over 10 million years ago.  Pygmy hippos are nocturnal and reclusive by nature so, little is known about their behaviours in the wild. Most of their time is spent in swamps and near rivers, in order to keep their skin wet. and feed on leafy surrounding vegetation during later in the day and at night.  They mainly eat grasses, leaves, shoots and fallen fruits. Pygmy hippos have been classified an endangered species by the Zoological Society of London.  It has been estimated that there are around 2,000 pygmy hippos left in the wild, with numbers declining. The majority of remaining pygmy hippos are believed to be in Liberia, with some possibly in Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast (all countries with remaining Upper Guinean Forest).  A subspecies existed in Nigeria, but this is now believed to be extinct as there have been no sightings for decades.

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