Watch out, Fiona! There's a cute new baby hippo in North America, and she's coming for your social media likes.
A female pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) calf was born at the Toronto Zoo on Aug. 10. The zoo announced her birth this week.
This was the first surviving calf for Kindia, a 12-year-old female, and the seventh pygmy hippopotamus born in the zoo's history.
As their name suggests, pygmy hippos look like smaller versions of river hippos, but there are several key differences, according to the zoo. These differences include a rounder, proportionally smaller head; larger, more circular nostrils; proportionately longer legs and webbed front toes; and only one pair of upper incisors. (River hippos have two pairs.) Pygmy hippos also spend more of their time on land than in the water.
The gestation period for a pygmy hippopotamus is typically about 180-210 days, and then a single calf is born. After the birth, zoo employees transferred Kindia and the calf to the maternity area of the habitat and monitored her via video cameras.
The zoo reports that the unnamed calf is doing well. She's eating and appears healthy. The calf and Kindia are not on public view as the zoo continues to monitor them.
An important birth for conservation efforts
Kindia arrived at the Toronto Zoo from Parc Zoologique de La Fleche in Sarthe, France, in June 2016. Kindia is a part of the Pygmy Hippopotamus Species Survival Plan, an initiative to "establish and maintain a healthy, genetically diverse population, and overall conservation efforts" for the species. Pygmy hippos, classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), have faced habitat loss from logging operations in West Africa, specifically Liberia, where most of the remaining population of about 2,000 to 3,000 individuals, live. Hunting has also put pressure on the species.
"Conservation efforts for endangered species has no boundaries, and the more we work together internationally helps improve our chances of saving incredible animals like the pygmy hippo," Maria Franke, the curator of mammals at the Toronto Zoo, said in the statement. "Partnering with our colleagues by bringing Kindia over from France to mate with our male hippo has allowed us to strengthen the genetics of the global population."