Thursday, January 27, 2011

Baby hippo

Sylvia was home sick today. Really, she isn't sick, but she's had goopy eyes the last few days and her daycare didn't want to risk pink eye, so she had to stay home. Feeling stir-crazy myself, we went to the zoo.

Our first stop was the petting zoo, where I discovered Sylvia is afraid of 24-inch-tall goats. She did really like the black rabbit (named Darth Vader) and was willing to touch him. While we were there, one of the zoo keepers mentioned a baby hippo was born yesterday, so off we went to find the baby hippo.

After meandering past tigers and birds, we found the hippo enclosure pretty packed with people wanting to glimpse the little (as compared to the mama, anyway) bundle of joy. The pair were lounging in the sun when we arrived, but within a few minutes the mama pushed the baby to his or her feet (gender is still to be determined--mama hippo is too protective to allow the handlers access to the baby) and then pushed the baby into the water. The two swam around a bit, with the mama hippo pushing baby to the top of the water to allow it to breathe.

Sadly, I decided not to take the camera today, so we have no proof that we saw the baby hippo. You'll just have to take my word for it.

It's amazing how much a baby hippo can do, just a little more than a day after it's born. It stood on its own and swam, though not well. I guess such proficiency is required for animals that live in wild, dangerous places and don't have mothers or social structures capable of keeping babies safe for months at a time while skills are acquired. Still, it's incredible to me that a baby hippo is strong enough to walk a mere day after it's born. Makes me wonder how much more uncomfortable the proddings of a hippo pregnancy are than a human one!

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