Three-week-old pygmy hippo, Winnie, is 'doing brilliantly'

Pygmy hippo
Three-week-old Winnie is part of an endangered species of hippo. Photo: PA

An endangered pygmy hippo has been born in captivity at Bristol Zoo, delighted keepers announced.

The 5kg baby hippo was named Winnie when she was born three weeks ago.

She is now roaming the Zoo's pygmy hippo exhibit, alongside her parents, mother Sirana and father Nato.

Winnie and Sirana
Winnie eating with her mother Sirana in the hippo enclosure at Bristol Zoo. Credit: PA

Like most babies Winnie spends her days sleeping, eating - and swimming around the exhibit's heated pool.

Lynsey Bugg, assistant curator of mammals at Bristol Zoo, said Sirana is proving "very maternal" with her newborn.

Winnie follows Sirana a lot. Sirana is very protective and doesn't let her stay in deep water for too long.

Young hippos tire easily and Sirana will quite often guide her baby into shallow water or bring her out of the pool.

Winnie is doing brilliantly, she's putting on weight really well, she is starting to get a bit chunky.

I think people are quite surprised when they see how small she is because mum and dad are quite big.

– Zookeeper Lynsey Bugg
Mum and baby
Winnie is already appearing to be very close to her mother Sirana, zookeepers said. Credit: PA

Less than 2,000 pygmy hippos survive in the wild, partly due to the destruction of their natural habitat.

In Liberia, logging in the forests surrounding the Sapo National Park is damaging one of the few remaining strongholds for the pygmy hippo.

Bristol Zoo Gardens is part of an international captive breeding programme for the pygmy hippo.

Winnie
The pygmy hippo's nose and ears can be closed underwater. Credit: PA

Pygmy hippos are much smaller than the common hippopotamus, with proportionally longer legs, a smaller head, less prominent eyes, and ears more towards the side of the head.

In the wild, females breed on average once every two years, with pregnancy lasting about six months.

The baby weighs between 4.5 and 6.2kg and is unable to walk very far at first. After three months, it is able to eat vegetation.