Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Pygmy Hippo

The pygmy hippopotamus is a mammal native to the forests and swamps of western Africa. The pygmy hippo is reclusive and noctural. It is one of only two extant species in the Hippopotamidae family, the other being its much larger cousin the common hippopotamus.

Pygmy Hippos are classified as being ‘vulnerable’, which is just one step from an endangered classification. Therefore the birth of Monifa at Toronga Zoo was an exciting event.

Check out Monifa at Toronga taking her first swim.

Nine-month-old Pygmy Hippo ‘Monifa’ has now arrived at Melbourne Zoo, leaving her birthplace at Taronga Zoo.

Melbourne Zoo Director Kevin Tanner says ‘Monifa’s birth is a significant contribution to the regional breeding program for Pygmy Hippopotamus, a species with as few as 3,000 individuals surviving in the wild.

‘We are especially delighted to welcome Monifa, as she is the first offspring of Timmy, a long-time favourite of our visitors and staff.’

Monifa’s survival was in the balance at first, so keepers had to step in and hand-raise her, which included providing bottles round the clock.

The calf’s very shaky start in life is reflected in her name: Monifa means ‘I am lucky’ in a Nigerian language.

From being a tiny and frail 3.8kg when she was born last October, Monifa is now a healthy 65kg, thanks to such dedicated care

She no longer needs to be bottle-fed, enjoying a variety of solids, such as endive, lettuce, carrot, apple, lucerne hay, and other fruit, vegetables, and grains.

Click here to listen to the interview with Senior Keeper Sheila Roe at Melbourne Zoo.

You can find out about all the latest happenings at Melbourne Zoo at

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