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Rare hippo species born in Athens Zoo

March 20, 2024

The endangered pygmy hippopotamus' birth was "extremely important" for the Athens zoo. Its name will be decided by a vote.

Head Keeper holds newborn pygmy hippo, at the Attica Zoological Park.
The pygmy hippos can weigh up to 275 kilograms (just under 600 pounds)Image: Stelios Misinas/REUTERS

It was the first birth in 2024 for Athens' Attica Zoological Park that made conservationists extremely happy: an endangered and rare potamus is now part of a hippo family in Greece

The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed pygmy hippos as an endangered species. About 2,000-2,5000 are estimated to live in the wild. Their natural habitats are swamps and rainforests in western Africa. 

"Every captive birth of pygmy hippos is extremely important. We're very happy to see this baby grow into a healthy adult hippo, and hopefully one day reproduce," the zoo's wildlife veterinarian Noi Psaroudaki told Reuters news agency in a report published Wednesday.

Baby pygmy hippo on show at zoo

Calf's name to be decided by vote 

One of the reasons that breeding in captivity has been complicated is the lack of male animals. So, the staff rejoiced when the zoo found out that the little one is a male hippo.

The calf was born on February 19 and currently weighs 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds). It has no name yet, as it still has to be decided by vote. The hippo is now joining his parents, Lizzie and Jamal, who are the only ones of their species in the zoo.

Baby pygmo hippo will remain with its mother for the next couple of months before it can explore the outdoors enclosure. 

as/fb (Reuters, AP)