MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A baby pygmy hippo made its first public appearance at Zoo Miami this week.
The unnamed male was born at the zoo on August 4 of this year.
He has been bonding with his mom for several weeks, the zoo announced on Thursday.
Zoo officials say they have been very careful in ensuring the infant’s introduction to the exhibit is done slowly and with an “abundance of caution.”
They say every precaution has been taken to ensure the baby hippo is safe at all times.
Officials said the baby has been swimming quite well and has even learned to jump right in and dive freely.
The zoo said, “As the infant becomes more independent and comfortable in the exhibit, he and his mother will gradually be given access for longer periods of time.”
This is Kelsey’s second offspring and the second pygmy hippo born at the zoo.
Kelsey, 26, was born at the Baton Rouge Zoo in Louisiana and arrived at Zoo Miami in May of 1993, zoo officials said.
The father, “Ralph” is a 5-year-old first-time father. He will remain separated from mother and son as in the wild, according to officials.
The zoo said this about pygmy hippos:
“They are a much smaller version of their well-known cousins, the common river hippo, and usually weigh between 400 and 600 pounds whereas river hippos can reach 6,000 pounds. In addition, they are less aquatic than river hippos and are usually seen alone or in pairs rather than in large groups. Pygmy hippos are also much rarer and are classified as endangered with only about 3,000 individuals believed to be left in the wild where they feed on a variety of plants and fruits. They are restricted to small isolated populations within the interior forests and rivers of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast where they are threatened by deforestation and hunting for meat. Because of their rarity and shy behavior, very little is known about their habits in the wild.”