Hippos come to rescue wildebeest from the jaws of crocodile
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The endangered pygmy hippo calf has not yet been named since its birth on April 17. The newborn is the latest addition to the family for its parents, Otto and Gloria and weighed just 5.4kg when it was born.
Pygmy hippos are natives of West Africa, where their populations are in rapid decline.
This is the result of their habitat being destroyed by logging, farming and human settlement, among other threats.
The female calf’s birth is therefore significant as it could help keep its dying species alive for years to come.
Jonny Appleyard, hoofstock team leader at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “Our new arrival is doing really well and is growing stronger and more confident every day.
“As she is still so young, we are limiting opening hours and numbers in our indoor viewing area to give the calf and mum Gloria some time to get used to visitors.
“The first 30 days are critical for her development, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on them both at this sensitive time and plan to name her in the coming weeks.”
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which owns Edinburgh Zoo, is trying to protect the species from extinction.
The RZSS is planning to publish the first ever genomic study of pygmy hippos in the RZSS WildGenes laboratory.
This breed of hippo is far smaller than the more common hippopotamus and they tend to live in dense forests near rivers and streams.
They tend to be good swimmers and can close their ears and nostrils when underwater.
In their natural habitats, wild baby hippos spend their first few weeks of life hidden in bushes due to being unable to walk very far.
Mothers assist them with this, as they fiercely defend their babies and tend to stay together for at least two years.
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Pygmy hippos have large and very sharp teeth which they can also use for protection.
As the zoo reopens to the public after lockdown, visitors will be able to see the hippo in person soon.
Mr Appleyard added: “It has been great to be able to welcome our wonderful visitors back to the zoo and hope it won’t be long before they can spot our little calf.
“Every visit helps care for our amazing animals, like our pygmy hippos, and protects threatened species in Scotland and across the world.”
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