The San Diego Zoo has announced the latest addition of its wild family – a male pygmy hippopotamus whose successful birth was the first of its kind at the zoo in more than 30 years.
The zoo welcomed the new bundle of joy on April 9, when 4-year-old pygmy hippopotamus Mabel gave birth in an indoor habitat for her species. Mabel, who is a first-time mother, gave birth to a 12.4 pound calf who is doing well, according to the zoo.
“Mom and calf are doing very well, they said – and the calf is nursing and getting lots of attention from the first-time mother,” San Diego Zoo Global said in a statement.
Within just a few hours of being born, the calf was able to walk and follow his mother around. He’s been “surpassing the milestones that wildlife care specialists watch for in a young pygmy hippo,” the zoo said.
The month-old calf, who does not yet have a name, has been able to successfully explore water and demonstrated hippo instincts to close his nostrils and hold his breath under water. With that, wildlife specialists granted the young hippopotamus full access to the pool in the maternity yard.
Zoo officials said it will be about another month for Mabel and the calf to have access to the main habitat.
Because hippos don’t live in family groups, the now 25-pound calf will not be introduced to his father since they do not play a role in raising offspring, the zoo said.
Pygmy hippos are an endangered species that are found in only four countries: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. There are fewer than 2,500 pygmy hippos in the wild due to threats that include farming, human settlement in its environment and logging.