Friday, July 8, 2011

Pygmy hippo unveiled at Whipsnade Zoo

The tiny calf, now three months old, is an important addition to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's endangered species breeding programme.

With as few as several hundred pygmy hippos left in the wild, Africa section team leader Mark Holden said Sapo is vital to the future of his species.

"They are incredibly endangered in the wild so it always good to have a baby hippo born," he said.

"Males are quite rare in captivity so it's a fantastic achievement for us and the population in Europe. He should also be a fantastic ambassador in raising awareness and fund-raising so we can continue our vital conservation work which we carry out in the field in West Africa."

The calf has been named after the national park in Liberia where ZSL field workers first saw evidence of the species in the country.

Sapo is the first-born calf to parents Flora and Tapon. When fully grown he will measure up to three feet high and will weigh more than 39 stone.

Sapo the pygmy hippo makes his first public outing at Whipsnade Zoo [Photo: REUTERS]

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