Tuesdays Are Play Days for Growing Hippo Baby at San Diego Zoo

PrintSince she was born on March 23, Devi, a five-month-old baby hippo at the San Diego Zoo, has been growing in both size and personality. As she was let out into the hippo pool this morning along with her mom, Funani, she immediately began a boisterous activity session. These usually last two hours or more.

John Michel, senior animal keeper at the San Diego Zoo, noted that Devi is now completely comfortable with using the deepest part of the pool, where she can practice her newly learned maneuver: a “barrel roll.” She was also having a great time on Tuesday, Sept. 1 playing with a piece of plant material that floated by. Devi is still nursing (hippo calves nurse for up to a year), but she is starting to pick up and mouth food that Funani is eating.

In the wild, hippos spend up to 16 hours a day in the water, so having access to the pool four days a week provides Devi a chance to kick up her heels and play like any youngster. It also gives her the opportunity to thrive by building muscles and learning important maneuvers from mom that she would need in the wild, to protect her from predators.

Devi and her mom share the exhibit with Devi’s father, Otis. Mother and daughter can be seen on exhibit Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The hippopotamus is listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The primary threats to hippos are illegal and unregulated hunting for meat and the ivory found in their canine teeth, and habitat loss. Hippos can still be found in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.




Tag, You’re It!

The public is invited to help select a name for the Zoo's rambunctious jaguar cub.

The public is invited to help select a name for the Zoo’s rambunctious jaguar cub.

A jaguar cub taps his mother playfully during a morning spent outside at the San Diego Zoo. Animal care staff has been giving the mother, Nindiri, and the wobbly-legged cub access to explore the area beyond the two bedrooms they share.

The public is being asked to help the Zoo select a name for the young cub through voting at www.bit.ly/NameTheCub. Voting will close on Sunday, May 24.

The cub was born at 8:30 p.m. on March 12, 2015, inside the jaguar den at the Harry & Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey exhibit. This is the third cub for 7-year-old Nindiri.

Photo taken on May 22, 2015, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo


Gorilla Baby: Movin’ and Groovin’

Imani & Baby

Joanne, the littlest gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, is in the process of learning how to crawl. So far she has mastered rolling over onto her stomach and has gotten very good at propping herself up on all fours and scooting forward inch by inch. During this independent time, her mother, Imani, usually keeps a watchful eye on the other kids in the group, 5-year-old Frank and 3-year-old Monroe, who are eager to play with their new sibling, sometimes a bit too roughly. Growing up with older brothers will certainly help to make Joanne one tough little girl!

The biggest adventure the little one has had on her own so far was witnessed by ecstatic keepers during the gorillas’ lunchtime. Using fistfuls of grass as leverage, Imani’s little girl was able to crawl about three feet uphill, a bit more rock climbing than crawling, while Mom munched on broccoli and watched her baby’s feat from over her shoulder. Worn out, Joanne plopped down on her stomach and let Mom retrieve her.

Every day brings an exciting new accomplishment for this 3-month-old!

Jami Pawlowski is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read her previous post, Gorilla Baby: Chew on This.


My Moment With Our Black and White Celebrity!

It finally happened, I was able to help with a cub exam! I have been waiting for this moment since my first look at the cub during my night watch shift. As we began setting up for the exam, my excitement quickly turned to nervousness, and my mind raced. There were cameras, researchers, veterinarians, nutritionists, fellow keepers and supervisors, and it was up to me to keep our celebrity calm!  

Then it was time: Bai Yun shifted out to her breakfast, and she was calm. Now was my chance to pick up the cub, weigh him, and bring him out for his exam. I picked him up and placed him on his blanket, along with several bamboo leaves that I had to clean off of him so he would be camera ready. I gently placed him on the scale; he weighed 7.26 pounds (3.29 kilograms)! Now out to the cameras, the veterinarian, and the nutritionist for his exam. He did so well! He made a few vocalizations here and there, and he is getting much more mobile–he even crawled–but the veterinarian and nutritionist were able to conduct a thorough exam. Success!

Jennifer Chapman is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Night Watch: Mission Accepted.