Boston Zoo Welcomes its First Baby Pygmy Hippopotamus: 'We Are Thrilled by This Success'

"The calf was immediately so bright, strong and aware, and was holding his head up right away," the zoo said 

Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo has welcomed a new addition — a pygmy hippopotamus.

The 13-pound male calf was born Oct. 5 to mom Cleopatra, affectionately known at the zoo as Cleo. It is the first pygmy hippo born at the zoo, according to a Tuesday press release.

"The birth was a joyous moment marking the culmination of years of work, careful planning, and dedication by the animal care and veterinary teams," the release said.

Cleo gave birth to stillborn calves in 2018 and 2019, due to prolonged labor, making the new calf’s birth even more momentous. The zoo made the decision to induce Cleo based on her history, giving her an initial hormone injection on Oct. 3 and a second one 24 hours later.

pygmy hippo calf
Franklin Park Zoo

By the late afternoon on Oct. 5, she was showing signs of labor and her new calf was born.

“The calf was immediately so bright, strong, and aware, and was holding his head up right away. The calf was introduced to Cleo soon after birth and was nursing within a few hours," Dr. Eric Baitchman, Zoo New England Vice President of Animal Health and Conservation, said in the release.

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He continued, "Each new birth contributes to the continued survival of this endangered species, and we are thrilled by this success. This is the result of years of teamwork and commitment, and I am incredibly proud of the Zoo team."

Pygmy hippos are an endangered species native to West African rainforests in the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Liberia, according to the zoo. They face a variety of threats, including shrinking natural habitat due to logging, farming, mining, and human settlement.

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