Johannesburg Zoo introduces our new hippopotamus calf.

After months of anticipation and speculation Johannesburg Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a new common hippo calf. Our new calf is the first to be born at the zoo in many years by female hippo, Hlanganani.

Days before, Hlanganani looked uncomfortable, ready to give birth at any time. To her relief in the early hours of the morning on the 27th of September, she gave birth to a tiny calf, most likely in the water of the hippo dam. When keeper Alice Masombuka arrived to feed the hippos in the morning, she noticed something different, a small head bobbing in and out of the water.

At birth a mother hippo is said to be 100 times the weight of the calf. If you were to compare that to humans, if a baby is born at five pounds, his or her mother would be five hundred pounds! With such a huge difference the first month of the calf’s life has been carefully observed with its mother carefully guarding her little treasure from everyone including hippo father Sandrock.

The common hippopotamus is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa but in recent times population numbers have reduced in size. The hippo is known to be one of the most dangerous mammals in Africa and in past weeks news surfaced on a man who was killed by a hippo which was considered tame. Johannesburg Zoo hippo Hlanganani has been very protective over her new calf and the two are never separated from each other. In its first month the calf has be seen resting on its mothers back much of the time with its eyes closed.

When it is not on mom’s back it is likely under the water suckling from her. It is rarely seen out of the water and when it is, it is shielded away from public view by Hlanganani. At just over six weeks old, the young hippo has grown considerably bigger and stronger and Hlanganani is slowly allowing father Sandrock a closer look at his offspring.

Hippo calves’ are known to stay with their mother for many years and only reach sexual maturity after the age of seven. It is still unknown if the calf is a boy or girl and it is hoped one day soon keepers will get a good glance at its under belly.

City of Joburg employees will get a chance to name the zoo’s new hippo addition and a naming competition will be running until mid December.

Prepared Candice Segal and issued by Letta Madlala Brand and Communications Manager on behalf of the Johannesburg Zoo. END.

Close Window << Back to Archived Press Releases