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Common hippo

Common Hippopotamus and baby at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Meet Hoover, Lola, Nigna, Hula and the latest addition to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's hippo herd - baby Nelly!

Common hippos are originally from west and east central Africa. Th word hippopotamus comes from the Ancient Greek meaning "river horse". Common hippos are actually threatened in the wild by habitat loss and hunting for their meat, hides and ivory.

Pymgy hippo

pygmy hippo

Pygmy hippos live in forests near water and are shy and reclusive compared to the more greagrious and social common hippo. They spend much of their day in the water which helps to keep them cool and protect their skin from the sun in hot climates.

You can often find ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's trio of pygmy hippos camoflaged in their outdoor pond, or if it is a colder day, in their indoor heated pool!


Learn more about hippo conservation!

A baby hippo had a splashing time at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo after taking a dip in the public pool for the very first time.

The five-week-old common hippo calf had been snuggled up to mum, Lola, in their private dens, before making its first appearance in the big pool today.

Born just after 9am on 11 December 2013, the tiny tot is Lola and dad, Hoover’s, second calf and is thought to be a little girl, but its sex is yet to be confirmed.

A baby common hippo - Nelly

Zookeeper Steve White said: “After a few tentative steps on the water’s edge, the calf was soon enjoying paddling around in the pool and blowing bubbles under the surface as she explored her new surroundings.

“She’s extremely playful and inquisitive and loves nothing more than watching what’s going on around her. She was standing and suckling just an hour after she was born, and mum’s been doing a brilliant job really helping her to thrive.”

A baby common hippo - Nelly

Got your ear! The new calf loves nibbling on her Mum's ear.

Born after an eight month gestation period, the new arrival will one day weigh a whopping 1400kg (220st) when she’s fully grown, and reach up to 1.6 metres in height.

Classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and under threat from poaching and habitat loss in the wild, the calf is a much welcomed addition to the European Studbook for common hippos.

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