The Metro Richmond Zoo is excited to announce the birth of a female pygmy hippo. She was born on July 26th to parents Iris and Corwin. The baby is doing well and growing rapidly. This is the first pygmy hippo calf to be born at the Zoo and in Virginia.
The pygmy hippo is a rare, endangered species native to West Africa. With only 3,000 individuals left in the wild, their survival in zoological parks is more certain than their survival in the wild. This birth plays a vital role in helping protect this incredible species.
The gestation period of the pygmy hippo is 7 months, and we closely monitored Iris during her pregnancy. 2 days after birth, the baby had her first vet check, and she weighed 14.5 pounds. A full-grown pygmy hippo can weigh up to 600 pounds!
Iris is a fantastic mother. Initially, she and the calf stayed in a super comfy, hay-bedded enclosure so they could have privacy to bond and allow time for the baby to grow stronger.
When the baby was two weeks old, it was time for her first swim. We moved mom and baby into the indoor pool area and lowered the water level so the baby’s head could stay above the water. Iris and her baby quickly entered the water, and they loved playing in the pool. Since then, we have been conditioning the calf to swim by slowly increasing the water level each day.
Iris and her baby will stay in the indoor pool area until she is large enough to navigate the outdoor exhibit. There are viewing windows into this indoor area, and guests can see mom and baby every day at the Zoo. Our pygmy hippo exhibit opened summer 2018, and the Metro Richmond Zoo is currently the only place in Virginia where people can see hippos.
On October 14, 2020, the baby was officially named Violet after fans participated in an online voting poll.