SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The San Diego Zoo announced their latest edition Thursday, a 3-week-old river hippopotamus calf.
His mother, Funani, helped him push around their 150,000-gallon pool before resting on the beach (a gesture that delighted the guests at the park).
Although animal care staff maintains protected contact with the species, the Zoo has confirmed that Funani’s twelfth calf is a healthy male.
The not-so-little male calf never misses a meal and has been seen nursing several times a day. One cup of hippo milk provides approximately 550 calories, and keepers estimate the calf now weighs between 80 and 100 pounds.
The not-yet-named male hippo calf was born Friday, September 22. Funani and her calf share the exhibit with the calf’s father, Otis. Mother and son can be seen Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends.
“It’s so great to have the opportunity to watch Funani raise another calf,” said Jennifer Chapman, senior keeper. “This boy is fearless, and we’re really excited to see him grow into his big personality.”
The river hippopotamus is a threatened species, facing both natural predators and human-made dangers, such as poaching. Following the 1989 ban on elephant ivory, demand for hippo ivory has sharply increased.
The large canines that hippos use to protect themselves are made of the same material as elephants’ tusks. In fact, they are slightly softer and easier to carve than elephant ivory, making them even more appealing to ivory buyers.
As a result, hippo numbers are rapidly decreasing, and the species is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
*Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.