Endangered Pygmy Hippo Calf ‘Penelope’ and Mom ‘Kindia’, Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo


TORONTO, ON, Thursday, October 4, 2018: With over 10,000 people voting in the Toronto Zoo's "Help Us Name Our Pygmy Hippo Calf" promotion, a name for the calf has emerged as a favourite. "Penelope", meaning ‘weaver’ associated with Greek mythology, has been confirmed as the name for the Toronto Zoo's female endangered pygmy hippo calf! A group of four names were thoughtfully selected by her Wildlife Care keeping staff and the Zoo asked public to vote online to help decide on the best name for her.

Kindia, a 12- year-old female pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis), gave birth to a female calf on Friday, August 10, 2018 at 10:52 pm. The endangered female pygmy hippopotamus calf is on exhibit daily from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm*. This schedule is subject to change as there may be times when she is brought inside the Pygmy Hippo Maternity Area for feeding and to enable our Veterinary and Wildlife Care teams to closely monitor her progress.

“Conservation efforts for endangered species has no boundaries and the more we work together internationally helps improve our chances of saving incredible animals like the pygmy hippo,” said Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo. “Partnering with our colleagues by bringing Kindia over from France to mate with our male hippo has allowed us to strengthen the genetics of the global population.”   

This recent birth is very important for pygmy hippopotamus conservation as the species is currently listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and there are only approximately 2,000 to 3,000 left in the wild in West Africa, with Liberia having the majority of the population. Small numbers are also found in the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Over the past 100 years, the pygmy hippo’s habitat has declined dramatically as a result of logging, farming and human settlement. As deforestation continues and their habitat becomes more fragmented, newly accessible populations are coming under increasing pressure from hunters.

The Toronto Zoo is part of the Pygmy Hippopotamus Species Survival Plan (SSP), which aims to establish and maintain a healthy, genetically diverse population, and overall conservation efforts to save this incredible species. One of the Toronto Zoo's mandates is to educate visitors on current conservation issues and help preserve the incredible biodiversity on the planet. The Toronto Zoo is in a great position to bring forward the plight of the pygmy hippopotamus and supports hippopotamus conservation efforts in the wild through keeper awareness events and the Toronto Zoo Endangered Species Reserve Fund.

*times subject to change without notice.

For more information on the endangered pygmy hippopotamus calf

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Toronto Zoo Media Contacts:

Katie Gray, Supervisor of Public Relations and Events or #416-392-5941

Amanda Chambers, Public Relations and Events Associate or #416-392-5974

About The Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is Canada’s premier zoo and a national leader in saving wildlife to ensure the rich diversity of nature for future generations. More than a tourist attraction, the Toronto Zoo boasts a number of leading programs for helping wildlife and their natural habitats – from species reintroduction to reproductive research. A world-class educational centre for people of all ages, the Toronto Zoo is open every day except December 25 and attracts approximately 1.3 million visitors each year.