Johannesburg Zoo’s Pygmy Hippo calf has a new name!

In August the Johannesburg Zoo called upon the general public to suggest a name for our young Pygmy Hippo. After six weeks of the competition and over 250 entries the winning name has been selected.

The name was randomly drawn by the hippo’s keeper, Peter Miya who was delighted with the name – Phitlhelelo. The name which means “Achieved” in Setswana was sent by Victor Ramakoetsana, a security guard working in the area around the zoo. Victor decided to enter the competition after reading an article about the hippo in the local newspaper. When choosing a name Victor thought about how long the zoo had waited for another baby to be born and what he means to the zoo.

Phitlhelelo is the offspring of a breeding programme partnership between Johannesburg Zoo and the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria. Phitlhelelo is the first baby born from Naboo, a female hippo born at the Johannesburg Zoo in 2002 and sent to the National Zoo’s conservation farm in Limpopo in 2006. As the second generation of Pygmy hippos born through the joint breeding partnership, Phitlhelelo is truly an achievement.



Executive Manager of Animal Collections, Tshepang Makganya handing over prize to competition winner Victor Ramakoetsana.

Competition winner Victor Ramakoetsana and keeper Hilton Nemutamvuni meeting pygmy hippo “Phitlhlelelo".

Phitlhelelo has settled in well to the zoo and weighs 112kg. When fully mature he could weigh approximately 260kg. Initially there were concerns about a condition where his eyes do not produce enough tears (similar to “dry eye” in human). He receives daily eye treatment from his keepers to manage the long term condition and is showing continual signs of improvement.

For choosing the winning name Victor wins an annual pass to the zoo, valued at R500 and will enable him to visit the zoo as many times as he wishes for 12 months. When he comes to collect his annual pass Victor will get the opportunity to go into the Pygmy Hippo enclosure and meet Phitlhelelo. The Johannesburg Zoo would like to thank the public who entered the competition for their enthusiasm and time taken to select names.

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








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