A rare and overly cute pygmy hippo calf was born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in the U.K. the day after Christmas and has recently been introduced to the public. Born of Flora, a 28-year-old pygmy hippo battling with cancer, the tiny unnamed boy is welcome indeed.
According to Fox 5, Flora has been living with a tumor in her mouth, but vets caring for her say she has responded very well to treatment, and the fact that she had cancer has apparently had no bad effects on her pregnancy.
The baby was due to be born on Christmas Day, but the senior keeper at the Zoo, Steve White, said he kept them waiting for a whole day. They knew Flora was going into labor because she apparently went off her food, which according to White, “never happens!”
The labor lasted six hours, and Flora, who has given birth before, produced the young lad successfully, and he headed straight to feed after his arrival. The calf has not yet been named, but weighed in at seven kilograms at birth and looks like a perfect miniature version of his mother.
According to the Zoo’s website, the pygmy hippo calf is doing well and gradually developing his personality, as he waddles around and spends a lot of time splashing about in the water.
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The zoo is especially pleased to see this tiny new addition, as there is a severe shortage of male pygmy hippos within the European Endangered Species Breeding Program. As for Flora, this is her third and probably last baby, according to White, as she will now retire from the program.
“We’re delighted for Flora, who has come through a difficult year and is now proving once again to be an attentive, experienced mum. She’s contributed three calves to the European Endangered Species Breeding Program and she’ll now retire from breeding.”
On the zoo’s website, it mentions that pygmy hippos (or Choeropsis liberiensis to give them their official title) are classified as an Endangered Species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Apparently, teams at the international conservation charity ZSL are currently working in both Liberia and Sierra Leone performing research and doing their best to protect the species.
In Liberia, the animals are affected badly by deforestation, as well as being among the species illegally hunted for food in the country. According to the World Conservation Union, there are less than 3,000 pygmy hippos remaining in the wild.
In this case, it is clear to see that these fascinating creatures are as cute as a button. This little pygmy hippo is only likely to stand 2.46 to 3.28 feet high at the shoulder when he is fully grown.
In other animal-related news, the Inquisitr recently reported on the plight of Lolita the Orca Whale, who is one step closer to being released from the Miami Seaquarium.
[Image: Screengrab from YouTube video]