‘Precious’ creature — as tiny as it is rare — is born at North Carolina science center

In an announcement filled with “pure delight and excitement,” a North Carolina science center welcomed a new member of its animal family.

The Greensboro Science Center’s female pygmy hippopotamus, Holly, welcomed a calf, according to a May 26 Facebook post.

“The calf was born on May 24, 2023 to Holly (female) and Ralph (male), a pair recommended for breeding by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan Program,” the center said, “making a significant milestone in the GSC’s most recent zoo expansion, Revolution Ridge.”

In a video shared by the center, Holly and her new calf stand in the mud, the baby incredibly tiny next to its already small mother.

The two are pygmy hippos, a different species than the common river hippopotamus, which only grows to between 350 and 600 pounds, the center said. Pygmy hippos weigh 7.5 to 14 pounds at birth, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance says.

River hippos, in comparison, can grow as large as 4,000 pounds, and are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, Ultimate Kilimanjaro reports.

Pygmy hippos, by comparison, are one-sixth the size. They are native to West Africa, primarily Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They are also extremely rare.

Pygmy hippos are endangered, making conservation efforts essential, the center said.
Pygmy hippos are endangered, making conservation efforts essential, the center said.

Listed as endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species, there are only an estimated 2,500 adult pygmy hippos in the wild, making breeding programs like the Species Survival Plan program essential.

“Beginning Friday, May 26 at 2:00 p.m., viewing of the hippo indoor holding area will be intermittent … as we continue to monitor Holly and her new calf,” the center said.

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