A bouncing baby hippo was born today at 11:30am at the San Diego Zoo in front of about a hundred Zoo guests. The calf's parents are Otis and Funani, and its sex and weight are currently unknown. Help us welcome the newest addition to our family!
The crowd that had been urging Funani to "Push! Push!" gasped and cheered. Tears poured from the eyes of Karen Grupe, a visitor from Wisconsin. Her husband, Keith Grupe, said the family, which included three children, had waited an hour at the exhibit for this moment.
"You saw her (Funani) fidgeting and fidgeting and all the sudden there was a baby in the water with her," he said. "It's the coolest thing you could ever see."
Keepers began to see breeding between Otis and Funani in April 2010. Typically, a hippo's gestation period lasts 8 months. Otis was taken off exhibit a few weeks ago because he has not fathered a calf at the San Diego Zoo and keepers did not know how he would react to a newborn. Funani is an experienced mother who had three babies with Jabba, the previous male hippo in the exhibit. Otis came to the Zoo in hopes of diversifying the hippo population.
"Since June 2010, Funani has gained about 300 pounds," said Matt Akel, a San Diego Zoo animal care supervisor. At this point, the calf has not been named, keepers do not know its sex, and there are no plans for whether it will stay at the Zoo after it is weaned or be moved to another zoo for breeding purposes.