1. ITV Report

Baby hippo makes a big splash for first time

Baby hippo Nelly gives mum Lola a kiss in the pool. Photo: Whipsnade Zoo

A baby hippo had a splashing time at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo after taking a dip in the public pool for the very first time.

The five-week-old common hippo calf had been snuggled up to mum, Lola, in their private dens, before making its first appearance in the big pool today.

Born just after 9am on 11 December 2013, the tiny tot is Lola and dad, Hoover’s, second calf and is thought to be a little girl, but its sex is yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, keepers have nicknamed the youngster Nelly.

Nelly enjoying a splash with mum. Credit: Whipsnade Zoo

“After a few tentative steps on the water’s edge, Nelly was soon enjoying paddling around in the pool and blowing bubbles under the surface as she explored her new surroundings.

“She’s extremely playful and inquisitive and loves nothing more than watching what’s going on around her. She was standing and suckling just an hour after she was born, and mum’s been doing a brilliant job really helping her to thrive.”

– Steve White, Zookeeper
Baby Nelly will one day weigh a whopping 1400kg. Credit: Whipsnade Zoo

Born after an eight month gestation period, baby Nelly will one day weigh a whopping 1400kg (220st) when she’s fully grown, and reach up to 1.6 metres in height.

Classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and under threat from poaching and habitat loss in the wild, Nelly is a much welcomed addition to the European Studbook for common hippos.

Nelly enjoying paddling around in the pool. Credit: Whipsnade Zoo