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About Pygmy Hippos

About Pygmy Hippos

The pygmy hippo may resemble a miniature river hippopotamus, but there are structural differences. It is considerably smaller; the head is rounder, proportionately smaller and not so broad and flat. The nostrils are large and almost circular, the eyes are set on the side of the head and do not protrude, the legs are proportionately longer and only the front toes are webbed. As well, the pygmy hippo has only one pair of upper incisors compared to the river hippo’s two pairs. The feet have four toes each with sharp nails. Length of head & body: 1.5 m – 1.8 m, Height to shoulder: 0.8 m, Weight: 160 - 270 kg.

Like the river hippo, pygmy hippos are a semiaquatic mammal however, they spend more time on land in forests and swampy areas. They are very shy and are nocturnal in nature. Pygmy hippos sleep by day, resting most of the morning and early afternoon in thick undergrowth near rivers or streams until they begin to forage during late evening to about midnight. When foraging in tropical forests, pygmy hippos make deep paths similar to tunnels within the dense brush. When foraging in water, they form canal like pathways. It marks these tunnel-like paths by spreading its dung while vigorously wagging its tail when defecating. When frightened, or alarmed, the pygmy hippo seeks refuge in dense cover or in the water. They are excellent swimmers and can even walk on the river bottom. They can stay underwater for over 5 minutes. Pygmy hippos are said to have excellent hearing and eyesight. An oily chemical, which is given off by the body, helps lubricate their skin so it doesn't dry out.

A pygmy hippopotamus’ gestation period is about 180 - 210 days, after which a single calf is born. Subsequently, Kindia, was moved from public viewing into a maternity area within the Pygmy Hippo Habitat where video cameras were set in place for Wildlife Care to monitor her closely. While the calf appears healthy, and feeding well, the first thirty days will be critical for both mom and calf. Toronto Zoo Wildlife Care staff will continue to closely monitor Kindia and her calf in the maternity area, which is not visible to the public at this time. Kindia arrived to the Toronto Zoo from Parc Zoologique de La Fleche in Sarthe, France in June of 2016 as part of a global breeding program.