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Off the Leash Off the Leash

Rare pygmy hippo makes debut in Tampa

There are fewer than 3,000 left in the wild.

By Vetstreet Dec 10, 2012 4:32PM

The Lowry Park Zoo is celebrating an early holiday gift this season: the birth of a rare pygmy hippopotamus.

The female calf, who weighed only 10 pounds when she was born just before Photo: David ParkinsonThanksgiving, is thriving at the Tampa zoo. She's the second baby for mother Zsa Zsa.

This kind of hippo is much smaller than its relative, the Nile hippo. When it's full grown, an adult pygmy hippo stands only about 3 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs between 350 and 550 pounds.

"With fewer than 3,000 pigmy hippos in the wild, each birth is vital if we have any hope of saving this truly unique species,” says Dr. Larry Killmar, the zoo's vice president of animal science and conservation.

The calf doesn't have a name yet, but the zoo just closed a naming contest that invited fans to pick one of three monikers: Zawadi ("gift"), Zola ("to love") or Zuri ("beautiful"). Stay tuned, and we'll let you know which name got the most votes!

Photo: David Parkinson

Bing: Get the latest zoo news.

More from Vetstreet:
10 most popular kitten names of 2012
Boy pens heartbreaking letter after shelter mistakenly euthanizes his cat
10 cat and dog breeds with magical beginnings
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