Petre the pygmy hippopotamus has given birth to a calf at Melbourne Zoo. It is the first time Melbourne Zoo has had a pygmy hippo calf since 1981.
Keepers have only been able to see the calf through a recently installed CCTV system. The glimpses they have caught are giving them the impression that it will be a male.
Mother Petre has given birth to three calves in the past while she was living at Taronga Zoo. Her mate Felix is a first time dad.
The birth of the calf was viewed by keepers who were in an office adjacent to where the birth occurred. On Monday afternoon keepers saw it suckle for the first time and It has continued to suckle since. Petre is proving to be an attentive mother.
In the coming days the zoo’s vet, Sarah Frith will attempt to weigh the calf. At this point keepers will take the opportunity to try and sex it.
As a result of habitat loss and poaching the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed this species as endangered. Due to their rainforest home it is difficult to determine just how many pygmy hippos remain.
Regional and International breeding programs are ensuring that pygmy hippos are around into the future. There are just two breeding pairs of pygmy hippos left in Australia so this birth is important to increasing the population.
Photo Credit: Melbourne Zoo