Zookeepers are hip-hippo-hooraying at the arrival of a baby common hippopotamus at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
The tiny male hippo calf weighed approximately 30kg at birth – about the same as an adult Labrador – and is dwarfed by his mother, Lola, who tips the scales at a mighty 1.5 tonnes.
Following an eight-month gestation period, keepers – inspired by Game of Thrones – have named the newborn calf Hodor after the loveable gentle giant from the hit TV series.
The calf was born on July 21 and becomes the third offspring for parents Lola, 13, and 16-year-old male, Hoover.
The baby hippo sports the exact same pink skin markings – a natural variation in pigmentation – on its legs as his mum, giving the appearance that the calf is wearing a tiny pair of socks.
Zookeeper Angela Robinson said: “I was lucky enough to be working on the day Lola gave birth, which was an incredible moment to witness and I’m thrilled that the calf is doing so well.
“The calf and mother are both progressing exactly as we would hope and it won’t be long before we see the pair venture outdoors and explore the outside part of their home for the first time.
“Hodor seems to be a very confident and playful young hippo and, like any youngster, he has taken a liking to winding up his mum by chasing and play biting at her tail.
“Lola is a very attentive and doting mother; she never takes her eyes off him and often allows the calf to rest on her in the water and will help nudge him onto land when getting out of the pool.”
The new calf is part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), which helps ensure the survival of endangered species in Zoos across Europe.
Common hippos are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, but their populations are in decline due to threats including hunting and habitat loss.
To see Hodor making a splash in his pool with the other common hippos this summer, book tickets to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.