The Los Angeles Zoo welcomed its newest addition on Oct. 31 after the zoo’s female hippopotamus, Mara, went into labor at 1 p.m. and gave birth to a healthy calf two and a half hours later. The baby is the first hippopotamus calf the zoo has had in 26 years.
Mara, a 10-year-old hippopotamus, came from the Topeka Zoo in December 2013 as a companion to the Los Angeles Zoo’s male, Adhama, a 3 year old that came from the San Diego Zoo in June 2013. It was the first time in many years the zoo had introduced a pair of hippos, and they had an immediate connection, zookeepers said.
Since breeding is closely monitored to comply with the Species Survival Program (SSP) and Mara was on birth control, the birth came as a surprise, but wasn’t completely unexpected. Animal care staff had a hunch that a birth was imminent due to Mara’s symptoms such as weight gain, but they had limited testing options to confirm the suspicion. Staff referenced breeding notes, and guessed that a birth could potentially happen in mid-November, based on a gestation period of eight months for hippo pregnancies.
Both mother and baby are doing well. Animal care staff members hope to determine the sex of the baby when they can get a close enough look at the calf, or when they are able to separate the baby and mother for the calf’s first check-up. The hippo family is currently on view to the public.
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located at 5333 Zoo Drive. For information, call (323)644-4200, or visit www.lazoo.org.
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