Hippo happy

Pygmy hippopotamus birth helps ensure survival of rare species

Photojournalists have been clamoring for pictures of an adorable—and very rare—month-old pygmy hippopotamus (pictured) at a zoo in Australia.

Though born in captivity, the hippo’s birth is giving hope to the survival of the species, whose numbers in the wild are estimated at about 3,000.

Pygmy hippos grow to about a fifth the size of their huge cousins. Native to swamps and forests of western Africa, the nocturnal creatures are rarely seen in the wild. Scientists say the animals spend most of their lives in solitude.

Zookeepers at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney named the female animal Monifa, meaning “I am lucky” in Nigerian. The creature survived a difficult breach birth, so the name has significance. Her 23-year-old father was the last pygmy hippo born at the zoo.