There was treats all round at the Los Angeles Zoo last Friday as they received a baby hippopotamus. The baby certainly was a surprise as the mother Mara has been on birth control since she met male Adhama.
Los Angeles Zoo has not had a hippo born there in 26 years. They have also not had a hippo in pair in a few years until 2013. 10 year old, Mara came from Topeka Zoo in December last year to be a mate for 3 year old Adhama who came from San Diego Zoo in June of 2013. The pair of them were said to have an immediate connection after they met.
Mara went into labour at 1.00pm on Friday and 2 ½ hours later the baby was born. It was a special treat for zoo visitors who were able to witness the whole thing.
She went into labour while still in the water. This is a regular occurrence for hippos and the baby may not emerge from the water for 2 weeks. In this instance though Mara decided to go onto land and give birth. The calf spent the weekend with mum so they can bond. Keepers hope they will be able to separate them for a short time in the near future so they can determine the calves gender and check its health.
The birth was a surprise for keepers as she had been on birth control. The Species Survival Plan had recommended that Mara and Adhama not be bred. They obviously didn’t get the memo though as they still had a calf.
Keepers had a hunch that Mara was going to have a baby. They had noticed her gaining weight but there is no pregnancy test for a hippo. After looking through their notes and making some ‘guestimations’ the keepers thought the birth would occur in mid-November so they weren’t too off.
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Zoo/ Tad Motoyama