It is our privilege to share this beautiful piece with you - as well as the pictures attached, of Harry our dashing little Prince at just a few days old.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, we welcomed a new little fresh-faced baby onto the ranch. Hilda and Herbert, our pygmy hippopotamus pair had successfully mated and gifted the ranch with a beautiful 5.1kg healthy baby boy… named Harry.
Hilda's water broke on Wednesday afternoon, creating much excitement and anticipation on the ranch. Immediately Hilda and Herbert were separated, making it easier for our staff to observe Hilda. The hippo pond was drained as well to eliminate the risk of her giving birth in the water. Our Director, Rob Hall, and our Reptile Curator, Neal Martin monitored Hilda throughout Wednesday night…quietly watching her from a safe distance. After a long and uncomfortable night Rob and Neal dozed off just after 5h30 and awoke just less than an hour later, only to discover that Hilda had just given birth! They quietly observed the mother and baby for some time. Hilda was clearly exhausted!
Based on history, Hilda has not got the best track record when it comes to her 'motherly skills' - she could be a great mom, however, she unfortunately lacks the skill of feeding her babies. Just days earlier we attempted to milk Hilda in order to collect colostrum, should we be in a situation were we have to remove the baby. Hilda made this very difficult and after collecting just a few milliliters we realised we would have to make another plan. Colostrum (the first milk) is vitally important for a baby as it contains antibodies to protect the newborn against disease, as well as being lower in fat and higher in protein than ordinary milk. Luckily, cow’s colostrum is a fantastic replacement for hippo colostrum, which was great news as it was readily available.
The mother and calf were closely monitored, and after 5 hours of no feeding, the decision was made to pull the calf from its mom in the hopes of his survival. Harry was immediately weighed, wrapped in blankets and transported to our hand-rearing facility where he was fed. He is being hand-reared by our very loving curator and caretaker, Toni Inggs. Hilda's delayed birth raised much concern at the time, but we are proud to announce that both mom and baby are doing exceptionally well and we hope to introduce them in the near future!
Of course, giving birth can take quite a lot out of any animal, therefore we have placed Hilda on a special diet which is rich in nutrients and just plain yummy! Harry spent his first 3 days on colostrum, and has since been weaned onto his staple diet consisting of an ideal milk and water solution… which was highly successful with our previous pygmy hippo calf.
But…what makes this story so extraordinary, is the fact that the Pygmy hippopotamus' wild population is classified as endangered. There are less than 3000 left in the wild! They hail from West Africa, mainly confined to Liberia, with small numbers in the neighbouring countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. So for Cango Wildlife Ranch, from Oudtshoorn South Africa, to successfully breed another endangered species… is a very proud moment for all involved.
Both mom and baby are healthy and happy and we are ecstatic with the new addition to the Cango Wildlife Ranch family.
PS, Harry was named after the Royal and highly esteemed Prince Harry of Wales, for his true grit spirit, and for his love and passion for Africa and its wildlife!
Source: Cango Wildlife Ranch
Article Date: 30 March 2012