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Watch This Rare and Endangered Baby Pygmy Hippo Born at Athens Zoo

baby pygmy hippo born
Image via Attica Zoological Park

Other than being ridiculously adorable, this baby hippo is a massive improvement for his species as a whole. Learn more about this rare kind of hippo and you’ll understand why this baby pygmy hippo that was just born at Athens Zoo is a serious cause for celebration.

Baby Pygmy Enters the World

baby pygmy hippo born
Image via Attica Zoological Park

Pygmy hippos usually only give birth to a single baby after a rather long gestation period (6-7 months), which is why Athens Zoo and the conservation community have all held their breath in awaiting his arrival.

At last, he says hello to the world: born on the 24th of February weighing a mere 15 pounds. According to zoo staff, he’s the happiest little guy, loving playtime and nap time in equal amounts. Evidently, he also likes snack time, as he has already doubled in weight since birth.

…it’s a boy! (and why this is particularly good news)

Although any addition to the pygmy hippo’s vulnerable population would’ve been a massive win, conservationists are especially celebrating the fact that it’s a boy. 

Male offspring are crucial in zoo environments for maintaining genetic diversity and ensuring the continuation of breeding programs. In other words, his birth is a big step for all of hippo-kind, getting the species one step further away from extinction. 

Prepping for Pygmy Junior

YouTube video
Watch: Baby pygmy hippo makes its debut at a zoo in Athens, Greece”, Source: YouTube, Uploaded: NBC News

In awaiting the pygmy junior’s arrival the Zoo staff went above and beyond. They patiently trained the mother to stand in the position needed for the ultrasound and various examinations so that they could keep a watchful eye on the health of the youngling.

To make sure the baby would be fed properly once born, routine checks were made to see that she was producing milk. Nearing the birth, the Zoo also installed a night camera (as pygmy hippos always give birth late at night) so that they could keep a watchful eye over Mom.

How Many Pygmy Hippos Are Left in the World?

baby pygmy hippo born
Image by NBC News via YouTube

Pygmy hippos are sadly an endangered species and less than 2,500 adults remain in the wild. As with all endangered animals, it’s our human activities that have put them in this position: habitat destruction, logging, and poaching are the main reasons.

How Big Are Pygmy Hippos?

I know they’re called pygmy, but this name is a little bit of false advertising. Yes, they’re indeed smaller than their cousins, the common hippopotamus, but compared to most other species, they are on the chunkier side. 

 An adult can weigh between 400 to 600 pounds, about one-fourth the size of their larger relatives. They stand about 3 feet tall at the shoulder, with a length of approximately 5 feet. 

Baby Pygmy Hippo Born: Wrapping Up

baby pygmy hippo born
Image by NBC News via YouTube

In these times when reports of climate change and yet another species going extinct seem to be the norm, this hippo’s arrival grants us some much-needed hope. And other than his importance for the survival of his species, he’s also added a large amount of cuteness to the world.

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