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GREENSBORO — A pygmy hippo calf was born Wednesday at the Greensboro Science Center, officials announced Friday.
The calf was born to Holly and Ralph, marking a significant milestone in the center’s most recent zoo expansion, Revolution Ridge. This is the first pygmy hippo born at the center, according to a news release from the center.
The calf is too young to determine its gender and a name has not yet been chosen, a center spokeswoman said.
“We have been monitoring Holly’s pregnancy through the duration of her gestation, but with a first-time mom, we remained cautious,” Jessica Hoffman, the center’s vice president of Animal Health & Welfare said in the release.
“We collectively released a huge sigh of relief and cheered when we saw our adorable new calf take its first steps. Holly is proving to be a very vigilant and caring mother, and we can’t wait for our GSC community to meet this latest addition!” Hoffman said in the release.
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Pygmy hippos are native to West Africa and are considered endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It is estimated fewer than 2,500 adult pygmy hippos remain in the wild.
Holly and Ralph were recommended for breeding by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan Program,
“With only ten breeding pairs of pygmy hippos within AZA institutions, we knew this would be a monumental milestone if Ralph and Holly were successful,” Hoffman said.
Pygmy hippopotamuses (Choeropsis liberiensis) are much smaller than their cousin, the common river hippopotamus. While common river hippos weigh between 2,900 and 4,000 pounds, pygmy hippos weigh between 350 and 600 pounds.
At about 5 months old, pygmy hippos calves are about 10 times their weight at birth.
Revolution Ridge opened in June of 2021. The 12-acre, 10-exhibit expansion was designed to be a breeding center for unusual and endangered wildlife from all over the world.
“Many of the animal exhibits were designed to support breeding programs and it is quite a testament that, within a little more than two years, the GSC is now home to its first pygmy hippo calf,” Beth Hemphill, the center’s chief operating officer, said in the release. “This birth will continue to spark greater awareness about protecting life’s magnificent diversity within the animal kingdom.”
“Holly is a hippo with a bold personality, while Ralph is an easy-going individual and we are excited to see what personality comes through in their offspring,” Mike Motsch, the center’s lead pygmy hippo keeper, said in the release. Holly has received prenatal care the past six months, he said.
Viewing of the hippo indoor holding area will be intermittent and remain at the discretion of the center’s staff over the next few days as keepers continue to monitor Holly and her new calf.