Weighing in at just six kilos (13 pounds) and measuring just 15 centimetres (six inches) in height, Marwell Zoo’s new arrival certainly lives up to the ‘pygmy’ name.
The tiny female calf is now one week old (born on Friday December 13) and is already on her feet exploring her new home.
Born to 18-year-old Mum, Wendy, who lives at Marwell and Dad, Nato who stayed with Marwell in the summer, this pygmy hippo is an important addition to the European Endangered Breeding Programme (EEP).
Shelly Parkes, Collection Manager at Marwell Zoo said: “We have had a very successful and busy winter this year with lots of new arrivals in the zoo. The birth of a pygmy hippo, a species which is Endangered in the wild, is another great achievement for Marwell.”
Staff have revealed the youngster is a female and are now asking the public to help them decide on a name. Keepers have picked three possible names
The public can vote for their favourite name online and will automatically enter a prize draw to win a pygmy hippo adoption!
Shelly added: “Wendy is an experienced Mum, this being her fourth birth, so she has been fantastic at looking after the calf and is very protective of her. The baby was on her feet from the day she was born and seems a strong calf. She is suckling well and will continue to do so for another six to eight months. We look forward to seeing her grow and develop every day.”
In the wild pygmy hippos are elusive animals, living in the swamps of western Africa. Pygmy hippos, and their larger cousins, the common hippopotamus, play an important part in maintaining the ecosystems of the African wetlands and the surrounding grasslands and forests.
Ongoing deforestation in their natural habitat, combined with civil unrest, presents significant threats to the population of pygmy hippos. Their numbers have steadily declined and the species is now listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is estimated that the population is likely to continue to decline by 20% over the course of the next 20 years.
Marwell Zoo has seen lots of births this winter with the arrival of a giant anteater pup, Somali wild ass foal, Arabian oryx calf and Hartmann’s zebra foal. They have also had a new male Amur tiger join the collection this week.
To watch a video of the baby hippo exploring its new home at Marwell visit http://youtu.be/BtTSCIv12i8
Voting closes on Wednesday January 1 at midnight. To vote online visit www.marwell.org.uk/hippo
All images credit: Tony Gardner