COLORADO SPRINGS — Cheyenne Mountain Zoo welcomed its first baby hippopotamus in 32 years.
The zoo's 28-year old female hippo, Zambezi, welcomed the calf on Tuesday, July 20. The baby hippo was born underwater, and popped up and swam to meet its mother.
The zoo said as long as Zambezi and her baby remain healthy, the hippo building will be open soon to the public and guests can go visit them at the Water' Edge: Africa.
“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.”
According to a press release, some members of the zoo's staff were brought to tears when they met to new Nile hippo baby since it's a species that is currently at risk for extinction around the world.
The 3,200-pound Zambezi first came to CMZoo from Denver Zoo, in 1993. In June 2020, Biko, an 18-year-old male Nile, joined the hippo herd. The zoo says Biko and Zambezi "took a shining to each other nearly immediately."
Normal newborn hippos can weigh between 40 and 80 pounds, and this calf appears to be in that range. The zoo says the sex of the hippo baby is unknown at this time, and the zoo plans to name the baby after its one month birthday per zoo tradition.