COLORADO, USA — There's a brand-new, buoyant bundle of joy at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Nile hippopotamus Zambezi welcomed her first calf at 1:57 p.m. Tuesday.
The baby hippo popped up from underwater, bobbed up and down, and swam right over to meet its 28-year-old mom, according to the zoo.
The hippo is the first born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 32 years.
“It was an incredible moment to see this beautiful baby join our family,” said Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Philip Waugh. “Zambezi’s a first-time mom, but she knew just what to do. As soon as she delivered the calf, she turned around to greet it and started helping it to shallow water. I’m so proud of her.”
So far, mom and baby appear to be healthy and bonding well. The zoo's staff will continue monitoring the two hippos regularly and won’t separate mom and baby for an exam unless they think it’s medically necessary.
Because there are no immediate plans to physically check the baby, its sex likely won’t be known for some time.
As long as things continue to go well for Zambezi and her baby, the hippo building will be open and guests can visit them in the "Water’s Edge: Africa" area right away. The zoo said if Zambezi or the baby show signs they need more quiet time, the Zoo will close the area temporarily.
This baby is the fourth member of the hippo herd at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Newborn hippos can weigh between 40 and 80 pounds.
Baby hippo makes debut
Zambezi first came to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo from Denver Zoo in 1993.
In June 2020, Biko, a now 18-year-old long-legged male Nile hippo, joined the hippo herd on a breeding recommendation with Zambezi and her sister, Kasai. Biko and Zambezi took a shining to each other nearly immediately, according to zoo officials.
“Like any new couple, their first ‘dates’ had a few awkward moments, but once they connected, it was full-on hippo love,” said Waugh. “The two of them wanted to be together constantly, and we accommodated! They would do a hippo breeding ‘dance’ where they would swim nose-to-rear in a circle. We also saw them taking turns resting their heads on each other’s rear ends for little pool naps. They made it clear they liked each other. We saw their first successful breeding in November.”
Eight months later – a normal full-term gestation for Nile hippos – their little one arrived.
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