San Diego Zoo has welcomed a pair of adorable new arrivals this month. March 12 saw the birth of a jaguar cub while a hippo calf entered the world on March 23.
The jaguar cub was born to mother Nindiri, a three time mother. Nindiri and the cub were off exhibit until earlier this week so the cub’s eyes could open and he could become steady on his paws. The cub is now exploring the on-exhibit cave-bedroom allowing it to get used to different terrain. Keepers covered the area with hay that it has been enjoying rolling about in.
Currently the gender of the cub is unknown. Visitors can meet him at play days which began on March 28. This year the event is focussing on spots like the rosettes which are found on a jaguar. Visitors are able to engage in a range of activities focussing on this theme.
Visitors are also able to meet the hippo calf born recently during this event. Mom Funani gave birth to the calf at 6.30am while animal care staff looked on.
For the past two weeks Funani has been enjoying having the hippo exhibit to herself while keepers awaited the birth. She has raised four hippo calves at the zoo over her 30 years of life. Three of her calves were female while her most recent, Adhama was a male born in 2011. Keepers are unaware of the sex of this calf as they haven’t been able to get a close look.
Funani has been a protective mum keeping him from getting too close to visitors as senior keeper, John Michel explained, “If people come out to view the baby, patience will be rewarded .Guests may have to wait sometimes as long as half an hour, but the calf will wake up and start moving to deeper water, and mom will start to push it back up to shallow water.”
The young hippo will nurse for the next eight months. At birth hippo calves weigh just 22kg (50lb) but they may grow to weigh 1,800kg (4,000lb).
River hippos are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. A major threat to their survival is hunting for meat and the ivory found in their canine teeth. With bans on elephant hunting this trade has now increased.
Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo