Pygmy hippo calf makes its debut at Australian zoo
Pygmy hippo calf Kambiri is appearing in short stints at an exhibit at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. The pygmy hippo is just one of many species of tiny versions of animals.
In Pictures Zoo babies
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Named "Kambiri" (Nigerian for "allow me to join this family"), the female infant was born on June 26, weighing just 11.7 pounds (5.3 kilograms). She is putting on about 10.6 ounces (300 grams) of weight a day and has already doubled her birth weight to 29 pounds (13 kg). When mature, pygmy hippos (Hexaprotodon liberiensis) can reach weights between 352 and 605 pounds (160 to 275 kg), still 10 times lighter than normal-size hippos.
The pygmy hippo is just one of several dwarf-size creatures in the animal kingdom; these petite creatures range in size from the pygmy marmoset and pygmy possum that could both fit in the palm of your hand to the pygmy horse and pygmy hog, which are smaller than their normal-size counterparts, but definitely wouldn't fit in your fist.
IN PICTURES: Zoo babies
The animals are not just scaled-down versions of their hefty counterparts, either. For instance, the pygmy hippo is not as adapted to life in the water as the hippo and so its feet are not as webbed and it bears its calves on land not water.
Zookeepers say breeding programs, like the one that produced Kambiri, are important for the pygmy hippo, which was listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2006, with 1990s estimates putting the population at fewer than 3,000 individuals. That number could be too high, and a 20-percent decline over the following 20 years would be a reasonable assumptoin, according to the IUCN.
The baby pygmy hippopotamus is the second female calf born to Petre and Timmy, following Monifa, which was born in 2008. Despite Petre initially showing strong nurturing behavior toward Monifa, the calf had to be hand-reared by zookeepers.
"We are delighted that Petre is suckling this calf [Kambiri] and appears to be doing everything right to raise the infant without our help," said Renae Moss, the zoo's hippo manager, in a statement.
For now, Kambiri will only spend short stints in her exhibit, as the little one needs time to perfect her swimming. And like all infants, the baby pygmy hippo gets tuckered out quickly, zoo keepers say.