Baby Pygmy Hippo at Tampa Zoo

Baby pygmy hippo and mother

Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida welcomed a baby pygmy hippo on November 15. The female pygmy hippo calf weighs about 10 pounds. As an adult, she will grow to be about 350-550 pounds and stand about three feet tall at the shoulder. Pygmy hippos are much smaller than their relative, the Nile hippo.

The little calf has not yet been named, but the zoo is launching a naming contest on its Wild Wonderland website. The zoo’s animal care team has selected several African names starting with the letter Z in honor of mother hippo “Zsa Zsa.” The name that receives the highest number of votes through Monday, December 3, will be declared the winner.

The birth is the second in the zoo’s history and a great step in preserving the population of these rare hippos. “The birth of this rare and endangered nocturnal forest species marks only the 55th individual in the managed population within North American and underlines the importance of our
conservation efforts with this species,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, vice president of animal science and conservation. “With fewer than 3,000 pigmy hippos in the wild, each birth is vital if we have any hope of saving this truly unique species.”

In the wild, the pygmy can be found in West Africa in lowland forests. The species is mainly confined to Liberia, with small numbers in neighboring countries. The animals are comfortable both on land and in water, but rest and forage near waterways. They can most often be seen in shady sites near swamps, riverbanks or muddy areas.

Zoo Hippo on the Run in Montenegro

When a private zoo on a small island on Lake Skadar in Montenegro was flooded, Nikica, an 11-year old hippopotamus, seized the opportunity for freedom. As waters rose, she was able to bob to the top of her enclosure and escape.  Though currently being tracked by zoo officials, the two-tonne hippo could pose a threat to people. Villagers have been warned to keep a safe distance. “When I left my house to feed my cow, I saw a hippo standing in front of the stall,” said a farmer, Nikola Radovic. “I thought I was losing my mind.”

Watch the video footage of Nikica here below.

For more info about the hippo escape, see The Times Online. For more stories of animal escapes, see our 2009 wrap-up of Great Animal Escapes.

To learn more about hippos, see Animal Fact Guide’s article: Hippopotamus.