Big wait for a big baby at Melbourne Zoo


Keepers are keeping a close eye on Petre the Pygmy Hippopotamus at Melbourne Zoo as she approaches her due date of May 23rd. It is an especially exciting pregnancy as this endangered species has not bred at Melbourne Zoo in 33 years.

It takes 200 days from mating to the birth of the hippo calf.


This week zoo vet Dr. Kate Bodley conducted an ultrasound on Petre which helps to see that the calf is developing properly. The pregnancy is progressing well with Bodley able to find a heartbeat and observe the baby moving around a sign that all is well.

Justin Valentine, Petre’s senior keeper said, “Petre’s nature is incredibly tolerant, so she is really easy to work with. She comes into the night dens whenever we call her, she’s still just as accommodating as ever.”


Keepers have been busily working to prepare for the birth. Cameras have been installed in the night dens that it is hoped will capture the birth.

In the event Petre is unable to care for the calf keepers are prepared. It will be given a colostrum which is a special variety of milk which boosts resistance to infection and then feed with a special formula which mimics pygmy hippo milk.


Melbourne is one of only two zoo’s in Australia housing pygmy hippos so the birth will be important for Australia’s breeding program.

Petre and partner Felix came together in 2012. He moved to Melbourne in April 200 from Cairns Wildlife Safari Reverse with Petre joining him in December 2012. She has previously had three calves.

Photo Credit: Melbourne Zoo

By Cale Russell is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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