It’s a boy! Athens zoo welcomes birth of rare pygmy hippo

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 3:07 AM

ATHENS (Reuters) – A rare and endangered pygmy hippopotamus has been born in Athens’ Attica Zoological Park for the first time in 10 years, delighting conservationists.

A lack of male pygmy hippos in captivity had complicated breeding efforts, so zoo staff were “absolutely thrilled” the baby was a boy, Noi Psaroudaki, the zoo’s wildlife veterinarian, told Reuters.

“This is the first birth in the zoo in 2024, and what a birth!” Psaroudaki said.

“Every captive birth of pygmy hippos is extremely important. We’re very happy to see this baby grow into a healthy adult hippo, and hopefully one day reproduce,” she said.

Pygmy hippos are native to swamps and rainforests in western Africa. They are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and it is estimated only about 2,000-2,500 still live in the wild.

Weighing 7 kg (15.4 pounds), the male calf – whose name will go to a vote – was born on Feb. 19 and joins his parents Lizzie and Jamal as the only pygmy hippos at the zoo.

The hippo, solitary and nocturnal by nature, will remain with its mother for a couple of months until it ventures into the outdoors enclosure.

(Reporting by Stelios Misinas; Writing by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Lucy Marks)