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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo welcomes newborn hippo

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:19 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - It’s a baby boom at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo!

Right on the heels of newborn lemur twins, a big, bouncing bundle of joy made its debut Tuesday!

“With a final push, a little splash and some adorable baby hippo ear wiggles, 28-year-old Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Nile hippopotamus, Zambezi (zam-BEE-zee), welcomed her first calf on Tuesday, July 20, at 1:57 p.m.. The baby hippo popped up from underwater, bobbed up and down, and swam right over to meet its mom,” the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo said.

“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 and baby are doing very well, he added.

Not only is it cuteness overload at the zoo right now -- including the lemur twins on July 11 and the hippo, four babies have been born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo since April -- but the birth marks two important milestones. It’s the first hippo birth at the zoo in 32 years, and it’s the birth of a new hippo at a time when the species is vulnerable to extinction.

“The moment brought eagerly awaiting Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff members to happy tears,” the zoo said.

The proud parents are Zambezi, a 3,200-pound hippo who has made her home at the zoo since arriving from Denver in 1993, and Biko, 18.

“Like any new couple, their first ‘dates’ had a few awkward moments, but once they connected, it was full-on hippo love,” Waugh said. “The two of them wanted to be together constantly, and we accommodated! They would do a hippo breeding ‘dance’ where they would swim nose-to-rear in a circle. We also saw them taking turns resting their heads on each other’s rear ends for little pool naps. They made it clear they liked each other. We saw their first successful breeding in November.”

The newborn hasn’t been weighed but looks to be in the normal range of 40-80 pounds. Its sex isn’t known yet.

Following zoo tradition, it’ll be named on Aug. 20, its one-month birthday.

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