After 33 years Melbourne Zoo is soon to have a pygmy hippo calf. Keepers have been able to confirm the pregnancy of female hippo Petre using ultrasound.
Everything going well Petre will give birth in May. This will be her fourth calf. Petre was originally from Taronga Zoo and made the move to Melbourne in December 2012.
Father Felix is less experienced having never had a calf before. He moved to Melbourne in 2011 from Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve.
The pair have been coming together since July last year with one of their introductions resulting in this pregnancy. Keepers expect the calf to weigh somewhere between 4.5 and 6.2kg (9.9lb and 13.6lb) which is a big stretch from Petre’s 250kg (551 lb).
It will take six to eight months for the baby to wean and be ready to go off on its own. In the wilds of Africa this would mean it would go down the river to its own territory.
Justine Valentine, the senior hippo keeper said, “Petre’s nature is incredibly tolerant, so she is really easy to work with.”
This calm manner has led to the ability for ultrasounds to be taken. It also helps when you have a bucket of tasty treats for Petre to snack on during the procedure. Zoo Vet Dr. Sarah Firth has been able to capture amazing images like the baby doing running like motions.
Petre was described as an Angel by Dr. Firth.
Kevin Tanner, Zoo Director said that every breeding success is important. Pregnancies within an endangered species breeding program are an extra reason to celebrate though especially when it has been such a long time since the last birth he added.
Photo Credit: Melbourne Zoo