There are some things in life that are just too darn cute, and baby hippos are one of them. Add to the mix a miniaturized version and it absolutely can’t get any cuter. No way, no how, not happening. That’s the case with footage capturing an endangered pygmy hippopotamus calf taking its first tiny steps. The baby, who’s yet to be named, was born at the Richmond Metro Zoo in Virginia on December 6. Zoo staff was over the moon with its arrival. This is the second pygmy hippo to be born at the facility.
The youngster’s parents, known as Iris and Corwin, were, of course, greeted with celebratory fanfare by staff after Iris gave birth. Fortunately for her, pygmy hippos have a gestation period of just seven months. At 3 days old, the baby had a neonatal exam where veterinarians checked her gender and general physical condition. At the time she weighed a healthy 16 pounds. At the end of her first week on Earth, the little calf already weighed in at 24.2 pounds!
On average, regular river horses, as they are often referred to, can weigh between 50 to 100 pounds at birth. A fully-grown pygmy hippo can expect to reach up to 600 pounds.
Metro Richmond Zoo
The zoo explained that Iris is an experienced momma and very caring of her new baby. The calf has been nursing as expected and is growing steadily. Iris and her calf are currently residing in a “super cozy, hay-bedded enclosure” that is understandably off-exhibit to the public. This provides privacy to the pair while they bond. Once they’ve had some time to themselves, they will be moved into the indoor pool area visible to guests so the baby can start swimming.
West African Pygmy Hippos
Pygmy hippos are native to western Africa. They are now listed as endangered on the IUCN Red list. The sad fact is that, with fewer than 2,500 mature individuals left living in the wild, their survival on zoo grounds is much more certain than their survival in the wild. The Metro Richmond Zoo notes that the birth of this calf plays an important role in helping to protect these fascinating and rare creatures. MRZ is currently the only location in Virginia where people can view hippos. Watch their video below!