Tuesday 27 September 2016

WATCH: This adorable pygmy hippo born at Bristol Zoo will make your day

Rod Minchin

Published 17/09/2016 | 10:35

An adorable baby pygmy hippo has been born at a British zoo.

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The little boy is just three weeks old and joins parents Sirana and Nato in Bristol Zoo's Hippo House and is enjoying using the heated pool.

To enable Nato and Sirana time to settle into parenting, the hippos remained off show to the public until their home was reopened last week.

The zoo's curator of mammals Lynsey Bugg said: "The calf is looking very strong and he certainly feeds well.

"Like any youngster, he wants to be close to mum at all times and is often seen by her side.

"He spends short periods of time in the water but is not quite as good at swimming as his parents so we often see Sirana guiding her little one back into the shallow water. Young hippos tire easily."

Baby pygmy hippo born at the zoo. Bristol Zoo/PA Wire
Baby pygmy hippo born at the zoo. Bristol Zoo/PA Wire

The pygmy hippo has been assessed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and there are thought to be less than 2,000 in the wild.

Ms Bugg added: "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.

"We're thrilled to welcome a little boy who will follow in his father's footsteps and play a vital role in the future of this species, particularly because fewer male pygmy hippos are born than females."

In the wild, females usually breed once every two years.

A single youngster is born, after a gestation period of about six months. The baby weighs between four and six kilos and is unable to walk very far at first.

Its mother conceals it in thick cover, visiting it to feed it. After three months it is able to feed on vegetation.

Pygmy hippos are, as the name suggests, much smaller than the common hippopotamus, with proportionally longer legs, a smaller head, less prominent eyes and ears more towards the side of the head.

The pygmy hippo's nose and ears can be closed underwater, an adaptation to aquatic life.

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