Hippo calf update
Wednesday 24 March 2004
See how our hippo calf has grown since its birth at Christmas time
The 50lb youngster was born on December 27 2003 to mum Nigna. The calf, which is as yet unsexed, has now tripled in weight but remains very much under the protective care of its mother. In addition to Nigna's milk, the calf is now consuming solid foods such as hay, fruit and vegetables.
It spends approximately fifty percent of its time out of the water, returning to suckle, swim and keep its skin moist. It has access to an indoor heated den and an indoor wallowing pool. In about a month or so, depending on the weather, it will begin to have access to the paddock and outdoor pools, where it can learn to become more independent of its mother.
Hippos are found across East, Central, West and South Africa in slow-flowing rivers, lakes and swamps and are currently under threat due to poaching, habitat destruction and human conflict.
Hippos bodies are adapted to life in the water with webbed feet to aid swimming, nostrils which close when under water and eyes and ears are located on top of the head. To protect their skin from the hot sun, hippos secrete a reddish coloured liquid from their pores which acts as a natural sun block.