Zoos play a very important role in educating the visiting public about the need to conserve pygmy hippos in the wild.
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.
“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. 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.”
Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo.