Rare baby pygmy born at Whipsnade Zoo (cute pics)

Mother, Flora, is battling cancer

Updated: 
Rare baby pygmy born at Whipsnade Zoo (cute pics)

Zookeepers at Whipsnade Zoo have welcomed the birth of an endangered male pygmy hippo.

What is even more remarkable is that the baby's mother, Flora, gave birth to him while battling cancer.

She is still living with a tumour in her mouth, but vets say the 28-year-old has responded very well to treatment and her pregnancy was unaffected by the disease. Words: PA

The cute hippo calf came as a late Christmas present for staff at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire when he was born on Boxing Day, and he has since been toddling happily around.

The bouncing baby has not yet been named but keepers are considering giving him a West African name - where pygmy hippos originate from - or naming him after a famous boxer because of his birthday.

pygmy hippo born at Whipsnade Zoo
He is a particularly welcome addition because there is a shortage of male pygmy hippos within the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.

Senior keeper Steve White said: "Flora's calf was due on Christmas Day, but the little one kept us waiting until the evening of Boxing Day.

"We knew Flora must be going into labour because she went off her food - which never happens.

"After a six-hour labour, the calf was born, a 7kg perfect miniature of his mum. Since then, the baby hippo has been happily waddling around and seems to love spending time in water. On his first weigh-in, he was so slippery it was like picking up a big bar of soap."

Mr White added that, having given birth to three previous calves, Flora is once again proving to be an attentive, experienced mother, and will now be retired from the breeding programme.

Pygmy hippos are classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and teams at international conservation charity ZSL are working in Liberia and Sierra Leone to research and protect the species.

Pygmy Hippo Finds His Way Around New Home at ZSL Whipsnade


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