cheyenne mountain zoo
On July 20, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Nile hippopotamus Zambezi welcomed her first calf. The birth was actually captured on camera (warning: there is some blood in the clip below), showing the moments the baby hippo "popped up from underwater, bobbed up and down and swam right over to meet its mom," zoo staff wrote in a blog post.
"It was an incredible moment to see this beautiful baby join our family," said Philip Waugh, lead keeper at Water's Edge: Africa. "Zambezi's a first-time mom, but she knew just what to do. As soon as she delivered the calf, she turned around to greet it and started helping it to shallow water. I'm so proud of her."
Mom, 28, and baby are savoring some quiet bonding time now, though soon the hippo building at the Colorado Springs-based zoo will open to visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the little one.
The calf — whose sex, vitals and name are yet to be announced — is the first hippo born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 32 years. Staff estimates the animal weighs between 40 and 80 lbs., typical of a newborn, and they plan to name it on its 1-month birthday.
Nile hippos are currently listed as "vulnerable" to extinction in the wild, so the birth is extra meaningful to the species.
Zambezi first came to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 1993 from the Denver Zoo, and mated with 18-year-old Biko last year. In addition to their baby, they share their habitat with Zambezi's sister, Kasai.