SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A baby hippo was born Saturday night at the San Diego Zoo and is now freely exploring its habitat, although always under the watchful eye of her mother. The calf, the 9th birthed by Funani since she arrived at the Zoo, is yet to be given a name.
"Less than ten minutes after it was born, it was already on the beach," Senior Wildlife Care Specialist Jennifer Chapman told 10News. "Out of the pool, on the beach, so right away we knew this was a strong calf."
Funani can already be seen exhibiting the behaviors of hippo mothers, including licking sand off her calf, nudging her into the water, and making sure she is coming up to the surface for air. "That bond is already starting and she can start to train the calf immediately," Chapman said. "This is where you go. This is where you don't go. Listen to me. And she goes through all of that with the calf and it's really from minute one."
Because Funani is very protective of the calf, the father, Otis, is being kept in a separate area from the other two. They will eventually rotate into the publicly-facing part of the habitat.
The last calf born at the Zoo was a male named Tony in 2017. Because hippo mothers typically lose interest in their offspring when they begin preparing to resume mating, Tony was sent to a different zoo in 2019.