A rare pygmy hippo calf born at the San Diego Zoo. Photo courtesy of Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo.
A rare pygmy hippo calf born at the San Diego Zoo. Photo courtesy of Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo.

The first birth of a pygmy hippopotamus at the San Diego Zoo in more than a decade took place this week, theme park officials announced Friday.

The 12-pound, 2-ounce calf was born to mother Francesca in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, according to the zoo.

“We monitored both the female and the calf to make sure it was nursing, looked healthy, and also to make sure the mother was showing appropriate behavior toward the calf,” said Kim Livingstone, a lead keeper at the zoo.

The mother and baby will remain in a barn area of their exhibit until animal keepers think the youngster can handle the larger pool in the main exhibit area.

Zoo officials said pygmy hippos are an endangered species from the forests of West Africa.

There were estimated to be about 2,000 left in the world a decade ago, when the last population survey was done. Since then, political unrest, habitat destruction and wildlife trafficking in their native habitats are likely to have reduced the wild population to critically low numbers, according to the zoo.

— City News Service