Christmas came early at the zoo! We did indeed receive a hippopotamus for Christmas this year. Congratulations to pygmy hippo parents Iris and Corwin on the birth of their female calf.
She was born on December 6, 2022, after a 7 month gestation period. This is the second pygmy hippo calf born at the zoo and in Virginia. The baby is yet to be named.
At 3 days old, the baby had a neonatal exam. Our veterinary team checked her sex and general physical condition. She weighed a healthy 16 pounds. One week later, she clocked in at 24.2 pounds. A full-grown pygmy hippo can weigh up to 600 pounds.
Iris is an experienced mother and very caring of her baby. The calf has been nursing and is growing quickly. Iris and her baby currently reside in a super cozy, hay-bedded enclosure that is off exhibit. This gives privacy to mom and baby while they bond. Soon, they will be moved into the indoor pool area that is visible to guests so the baby can start swimming.
The pygmy hippo is native to West Africa and is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red list. With less than 2,500 mature individuals left in the wild, their survival in zoological parks is more certain than their survival in the wild. This birth plays an important role in helping protect this fascinating and rare species.
The Metro Richmond Zoo is currently the only place in Virginia where people can see hippos.