LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. - The Wildlife World Zoo in Arizona welcomed a new addition, and he’s an endangered one.
A pygmy hippo gave birth to a healthy baby boy about a month ago, and on this Valentine’s Day, a pair of pygmy hippos are adjusting to being new parents.
Baby Bubbles is starting to get the hang of walking while sticking close to his mother, Nessie.
The story began two years ago when Nessie met Tootsie Roll.
"Well this is a love story that’s a couple years in the making. Once Nessie got pregnant, she was pregnant for about 8 months" says Kristy Hayden, Wildlife World Zoo director.
Nessie used to be the only pygmy hippo at the zoo.
"We needed a male pygmy hippo with important genetic lineage because it’s important when creating a breeding program to have genetic diversity," she explained.
When Tootsie Roll was first introduced to Nessie, it wasn’t quite love at first sight. But things changed and two years later, they welcomed little Bubbles into the world.
"We came up with the name Bubbles because he’s so cute and bubbly. Pygmy hippos are about 10 pounds when they’re born, unlike their larger cousins. Full grown, they only get up to 600 pounds," Hayden said.
Bubbles is the first pygmy hippopotamus born in Arizona, and hopefully not the last.
"These guys are extremely endangered. There’s only a few thousand left in the wild. So to have a breeding program is huge," Hayden said.
The little hippo family plans to grow bigger. The Wildlife World Zoo is looking forward to welcoming more baby hippos in the years to come.