Hippo calf growth watch
Thursday 14 October 2004
See how our hippo calf, Lola, has grown since our last update back in March
As you all know, Aneena, our baby elephant born in March and the even newer male calf, born just two weeks ago, have had lots and lots of attention lavished on them over the last few months! However, visitors to Whipsnade mustn't forget about the other youngsters in the Park like our baby hippo, Lola.
Back in March, we still weren't sure of Lola's sex as she spent so much time in the water, however, we discovered in the spring that she is in fact a girl, so her keepers in the hippo house decided to name her 'Lola'.
The tubby youngster was born on 27 December 2003 to mum, Nigna, and in March, weighed just 50lb. She has now quadrupled in size and weighs in at a whopping 250lbs! Lola is now about the size if an adult pygmy hippo, so over a metre long and just above half a metre high.
Even at nine months old, Lola remains very much under the care of her devoted mother, who is still very protective of her calf. Lola still suckles from her underwater, although probably only a couple of times a day. In addition to Nigna's milk, the calf is now consuming solid foods such as hay, fruit, vegetables, and concentrated adult feeding pellets.
Back in March, Lola spent only about fifty percent of her time out of the water, returning to suckle, swim and keep her skin moist. At the time, she only had access to an indoor area, but just before the summer as the weather improved she began to have access to the external paddock and outdoor pools, where she now spends 95 per cent of her time, often wandering about on her own, without Mum.
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.
Picture by Tessa Rylett