We couldn’t get enough of Fiona in 2017, but new year, new hippo! An adorable bundle of joy recently arrived on the zoo circuit to carry the cuteness forward into the new year.
And this beautiful girl finally has a name: Meet Holly Berry.
On Dec. 1, Zsa Zsa, a mother pygmy hippo at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, gave birth to her healthy, 9-lb. baby. The zoo introduced the endangered newborn calf to the public on Dec. 5. This little lady is one of 32 pygmy hippos in the Species Survival Program; there are only about 3,000 left in the wild. She is the fourth baby born to Zsa Zsa, and the fourth of her species born at the Florida animal park.
After a special gender reveal, the zoo and a gourmet ice pop company called The Hyppo, local to the Tampa Bay area, partnered on a contest to name the baby. In just a few days’ time, more than 1,000 entries were submitted. A release from the Lowry Park Zoo says the chosen name, Holly Berry, was submitted by Jordan Thurmond at The Hyppo, and his family was also on hand for the unveiling. The ice pop shop made pygmy hippo themed pops for a birthday celebration for Holly Berry, featuring special flavors such as Watermelon, Honeydew Basil and Cantaloupe Mint. (Pygmy hippos love melon.)
“We are thrilled to finally reveal the name of our baby pygmy hippo. It’s been special to have our community so involved in this journey with us. We are excited to share Holly Berry’s milestones and watch her grow,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
In the meantime, the calf is busy exploring (upon wobbly legs!) her habitat in “Ituri Forest” within “Safari Africa.” She enjoys swimming, with mom Zsa Zsa keeping a close eye on her baby.
Currently, Holly Berry weighs in at 35 lbs. According to the zoo’s Facebook page, the baby hippo will start eating solid food around 5 months old, “but will still nurse as that is their main source of nutrition! Once they start eating solids, their diet will consist of greens and other produce, followed by alfalfa hay.”
Chris Massaro, General Curator at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, told Fox 13 News that baby and mama will even nurse under water. “They’re born to swim,” he said.
A press release from the zoo states that pygmy hippos are smaller than their Nile hippo relatives. Adults of the species weigh in at only a few hundred pounds, and stand approximately 3-ft. tall.
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In general, pygmy hippos are much rarer than the common river hippos which live in large pods throughout eastern and southern Africa. The pygmy species prefer to live elusive, solitary lives in lowland forests, mainly within Liberia in West Africa, with a handful in neighboring countries. Thus, it’s quite understandable that Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is thrilled to welcome a new member of the tribe.
“Pygmy hippos are elusive and extremely rare in the wild with only a few thousand thought to be left in the world,” said Massaro. “We’re one of only 13 zoos in the United States to care for this unique species so this birth is especially important for us, and the entire Pygmy hippo population.”
The zoo also informs the public that it just launched three special offers for guests to see Holly Berry, including offers for active military, first responders and Florida residents.