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Baby hippo born at San Diego Zoo already keeping mama ‘on her toes’

River Hippo Calf
The San Diego Zoo’s new female hippo calf, yet unnamed, was born at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
(San Diego Zoo)

The San Diego Zoo’s longtime hippopotamus mama, Funani, has given birth to a healthy female calf — the ninth little one born to Funani since she arrived at the zoo in 1995.

The roughly 70-pound baby hippo, who is not yet named, was born at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The zoo’s animal care specialists said both baby and Funani (whose name means “desire” in Zulu) are doing well — alert, active and eating well.

“The new calf from the get-go has been active and keeping Funani on her toes,” wrote Jennifer Chapman, senior wildlife care specialist at the zoo, in an email to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Funani definitely has her hands full with this one.”

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The calf was fathered by Otis, a male hippo from East Africa who arrived at the zoo in 2009 specifically to breed with Funani. The gestation period for hippos is eight months. Mothers care for their young for their first year and a half to two years.

Otis, Funani and the new baby are the only hippo residents currently under care at the zoo. Funani’s other calves were eventually moved to other institutions, Chapman said.

The best chance zoo visitors will have the see the calf is at mealtimes, when the hippos move in and out of their pool, Chapman said. Eventually, Funani and the calf will be in their habitat Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends. Otis will be in the habitat Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


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