Breeding Pygmy Hippo
Pygmy Hippo are a unique and vulnerable species that live secretively in the rainforests of Central Africa. There are only a few thousand left in the wild, so the EEP programme ZSL Whipsnade zoo is part of is a vital safety net.
We have 3 pygmy hippos at Whipsnade Zoo. The male, Tapon is only 7 years old and joined us from Tenerife. His female, Flora joined us from Denmark and is 25. The most recent arrival is their son, Sapo, who was born last year.
Males are quite rare births in captivity so Sapo's birth was very important for the EEP. Flora had also not bred before in captivity, so her breding is a valuable addition to the gene-pool of captive pygmy hippos.
We usually keep males and females separate, as they are fairly solitary in the wild. When females are in oestrus, ready to mate, we put them together. It is not difficult to tell when the right time to put males and females together is, because they call to each other across their enclosure and make their stalls messy. This happens around every 28 days for 2-3 days.
Mating occurs best in shallow water, which supports the animal's weight. Births occur in shallow water or on land: Sapo was born on land and was gradually introduced to deeper water as he grew older.
See our latest arrival in this video:
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