First look at adorable mini hippo after new baby arrives at Edinburgh Zoo
An adorable new baby which could play an important role in the survival of its species has been welcomed at Edinburgh Zoo.
The tiny endangered pygmy hippo calf was born during lockdown on 17 April and is a new addition to the family for parents Otto and Gloria.
The calf, a female, has not yet been named.
Visitors to the zoo from Scotland and beyond will be able to catch a glimpse of the youngster in coming days as it gradually fully reopens to the public.
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.”
Pygmy hippos are native to West Africa, where populations are declining rapidly due to habitat destruction caused by logging, farming and human settlement among other threats.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which owns Edinburgh Zoo, is working to help preserve the species.
Support includes publishing the first ever genomic study of pygmy hippos through research in the RZSS WildGenes laboratory.
They live in dense forests near rivers and streams. They are good swimmers and have muscular valves that close their ears and nostrils when submerged.
As the name suggests, the pygmy hippo is far smaller than the common hippopotamus.
Although they are herbivores, they have large and extremely sharp teeth which they use for protection.
Hippos lose a lot of moisture through their skin and must spend much of their time
In the wild baby hippos will spend the first few weeks of their lives hidden in bushes as they cannot walk very far.
The calves do not instinctively know how to swim when they are born so their mother must teach them.
Mothers defend calves aggressively and will stay together for at least two years.
After reopening to local visitors earlier this year, Edinburgh Zoo was able to welcome back people from across the UK and open indoor areas again on 26 April.
A wide range of safety measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of covid-19, including restrictions on visitor numbers and a requirement to book tickets in advance.
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.”
More about visiting Edinburgh Zoo and how to help care for the charity’s animals can be found on the conservation charity’s website.