History made at Montgomery Zoo after pygmy hippo gives birth to twins
The Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum on Wednesday announced the extremely rare birth of twin pygmy hippopotamus calves on August 4.
Both female, the calves were born to first-time parents Asali and Mikey.
The calves were the third and fourth birth of pygmy hippos in the last four years at the zoo in Alabama’s capital city.
Sadly, one of the newborn calves only lived for two days due to a condition called brachygnathism, which made it impossible for the calf to nurse.
However, the survival of one of the twin calves is a historic milestone to celebrate, as the birth of twins is a major anomaly for the species.
According to a release from the Montgomery Zoo, there were only 11 confirmed cases of twin hippo births from 1903-2015 throughout the world. Of those 11 births, there were only four cases in which one of the calves survived and only one case in which both calves lived.
In fact, with the high infant mortality rate of pygmy hippos, until about one month after birth, having a set of twins where one survived is significant to research and conservation of the species.
Description of the species via the Montgomery Zoo:
The pygmy hippopotamus is a large mammal native to the forests and swamps of western Africa. A cousin of the much larger common hippopotamus, the pygmy hippo is semi-aquatic and relies on proximity to water to maintain moisturized skin and a cool body temperature. Reclusive and nocturnal, it is a difficult animal to study in the wild. However, pygmy hippos have a history of breeding well in captivity. The World Conservation Union estimates that less than 3,000 pygmy hippos remain in the wild.
Though pygmy hippos share the same general form as the hippopotamus, they grow to approximately half the height and one quarter of the weight of their larger cousins. Full grown, the pygmy hippo typically reaches 30-32 inches in height, 59-70 inches in length, and 400-600 lbs. in weight. It is estimated that pygmy hippos can grow to ten times their birth weight by the age of five months.
The other calves born at the zoo in recent years (Monty in 2016 and Levi in 2018) are now continuing to mature and thrive at the Greater Richmond Zoo in Virginia.
The public is invited to join the Montgomery Zoo on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to celebrate the surviving newborn calf’s introduction to the public.
Mom (Asali) and baby will be housed in a temporary habitat located in the South America realm of the zoo, near the flamingos, until the calf is approximately a year old.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn