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Taronga Zoo Mourns ‘Devastating’ Sudden Death Of Pygmy Hippo Calf

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Taronga Zoo Mourns ‘Devastating’ Sudden Death Of Pygmy Hippo Calf

Sydney's Taronga Zoo is mourning the sudden death of a pygmy hippo calf on Christmas Eve just a month after she was born.

The calf, or 'little watermelon on legs' as she was affectionately known by staff, was born in November and was sadly found unresponsive on Friday the zoo said in a social media post.

"We are devastated to advise of the sudden passing of our young Pygmy Hippo calf at Taronga Zoo Sydney," the post read.

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"The "little watermelon on legs" as she was affectionately known, was born in late November and in a relatively short time captured the hearts of guests and keepers alike.

"She was found unresponsive on Christmas Eve afternoon and was sadly confirmed to have passed away."

The zoo hadn't yet announced her name, but they confirmed in the post she would have been known as Amara which means filled with beauty and grace.

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
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Taronga's veterinary team haven't yet released the cause of death, but preliminary findings suggest she may have had a problem with her heart.

Further investigations are currently underway and more information will be provided in due course, but the zoo confirmed there were no indications of trauma or misadventure.

Amara's mum Kambiri and dad Fergus are under close watch, but appear to be calm and relaxed at this time and are currently in good health.

"She was a much-loved member of the Taronga family and her passing is understandably heartbreaking for all those who knew and cared for her," said the zoo.

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Credit: Taronga Zoo
Credit: Taronga Zoo

The zoo had chosen between three names for the hippo, including Sierra and Sapo, chosen from the country of Sierra Leone and the Sapo National Park in Liberia.

Amara, which has West African origins, was eventually chosen with help from the public and would have been revealed next month.

The calf was Kambri's second baby and made her debut just 20 days ago in the water with her mum.

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There are less than 3000 pygmy hippos in the world which makes conservation efforts vital for the species.

Credit: Taronga Zoo
Credit: Taronga Zoo

The hippo den had been babyproofed before Amara's arrival and Taronga's senior ungulate keeper Renae Moss said at the time she was adapting perfectly to her new home.

"Like most newborns, the calf was a little hesitant at first and took her time going into the pool, however, after a little encouragement from mum, became more confident. Over the next couple of days, as the calf masters the art of swimming and becomes more confident in and out of the water, we will begin to increase the depth of the pool and remove some baby proofing within the exhibit like fencing," Moss said.

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Pygmy hippos are native to the forests and swamps of West Africa.

Featured Image Credit: Taronga Zoo

Topics: News, Animals, Australia

Hannah Blackiston
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