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A Hippopotamus for Christmas? It's a Reality at This Virginia Zoo

A female pygmy hippo was born at Metro Richmond Zoo in Moseley, Virginia, earlier this month.

pygmy hippo born at virginia zoo
Written by
Calin Van Paris
Published
The ultimate holiday gift? A hippopotamus, of course.
A female pygmy hippo was welcomed on December 6 at the Metro Richmond Zoo in Moseley, Virginia, providing a (very cute) embodiment of the
classic Christmas tune
—and the perfect amount of adorableness to help round out the year.
Born to parents Iris and Corwin, the new addition—who weighed 16 pounds at birth, a number that jumped to 24.2 just one week later—is awaiting a name, with the zoo
soliciting suggestions
via Instagram.

What Is a Pygmy Hippopotamus?

pygmy hippo born at virginia zoo
Photo: Instagram/@metrorichmondzoo
Hippos (common and pygmy) are native to
sub-Saharan Africa
, where they soak in waters during the day, emerging to snack at night. The mammals have no sweat glands and rely on water and mud to stay cool in the hot Saharan sun.
In spite of their name, which inspires miniature associations, pygmy hippos are
still fairly large
, weighing in at 350-600 pounds in adulthood (though, to be fair, this is small when compared to the common hippo's 1.4-5 tons). Pygmies have longer legs and less-webbed digits than common hippos and enjoy a
plant-based
diet.

Are Pygmy Hippos Endangered?

pygmy hippo born at virginia zoo
Photo: Instagram/@metrorichmondzoo
The
IUCN red list
currently lists hippos in general as vulnerable due to hunting (ivory can be found in hippo teeth) and habitat loss caused by
climate change
and human land use. Recently,
some have called
for the species' status to be escalated to endangered, the better to discourage poaching and trade.
Pygmy hippos are deemed less of a target for traditional poaching, but local bushmen are said to hunt the smaller mammal for its meat. As such, ushering a new pygmy hippo into the world is indeed a cause for celebration.
If you need us, we'll be brainstorming names for the little one.