Two years ago, a new addition to our pygmy hippopotamus family was born. You might have learned that pygmy hippos are an endangered species, and the birth of our male baby pygmy hippo is a cause for celebration! To ensure the continuation of their species, we must first learn about them. So, here are 3 fun facts about the pygmy hippopotamus.
1. The pygmy hippo is not a miniature version of the common hippo
Although they are distant cousins, there are many differences between the pygmy hippo and the common hippo, so biologists gave both species very different names: Choeropsis liberiensis for pygmy hippos and Hippopotamus amphibius for common hippos. Pygmy hippos have a rounder, shorter snout, with smaller, less protruding nostrils. Their feet are less webbed than their cousins’, because they spend more time on land than in water. Pygmy hippos have greenish-black skin, and produce a pinkish fluid (called blood sweat) that protects their skin from sunlight and harmful bacteria.
2. They are harder to spot in the wild
Pygmy hippos are nocturnal animals; they hide in dense forests, in bushes in the swamps and near streams throughout the day, and only come out at night to find food. They eat leaves, ferns, herbs, and fallen fruits. Unlike their larger cousins, pygmy hippos are solitary animals; they prefer to live alone, but sometimes they pair up with a potential mate in a long courtship ritual. Due to illegal poaching, pygmy hippos are increasingly harder to spot now, with their numbers dwindling to 2000 pygmy hippos in the wild. This is about 50 times less than the number of common hippos in the wild.
3. Their babies can put on a lot of weight quickly
When a baby pygmy hippo is born, their size is a little bigger than a piggy bank and only weighs 5 to 6 kg. The mother tends to her young until weaning at around 8 months old. Until that time, the baby consumes a lot of milk. At one month old, the baby hippo weighs 3 times their birth weight, and at 5 months, they weigh 10 times their birth weight. In the wild, the mother will hide her young in the bush while she looks for food.
There is still so much to learn about the pygmy hippopotamus, about how they live and how to breed them. The best place to start learning about endangered animals is Bali Safari Park & Marine Park. Remember, a part of the ticket price goes directly to the conservation of endangered species. Find us in Gianyar, Bali, and join the effort!