Hippo Mother Nudges Curious Calf at the San Diego Zoo

Devi, an 8-week-old hippopotamus is nosed to shallower water by her mother Funani Thursday morning at the San Diego Zoo. The female calf has recently been venturing to the farthest reaches and deepest parts of the 150,000-gallon pool.  But everywhere Devi goes, Funani is just a few feet away. Hippo mothers are known for being very protective.  For the first six weeks of Devi’s life, it was very hard for guests – and keepers – to see the calf because Funani often had her tucked into vegetation near the shore, and kept her body between the calf and the public.

This morning, the curious calf could be seen repeatedly popping up to the glass wall of her 150,000 gallon pool take to take a look at all the guests who were fascinated with her. Hippos have a membrane that protects their eyes and allows them to see underwater, which means that Devi can watch the guests watching her.

Hippo Mother Nudges Curious Calf at the San Diego Zoo

Devi was born on Monday, March 23 at 6:30 a.m. with animal care staff observing. Funani and Devi share the exhibit with Devi’s father, Otis. Mother and daughter can be seen on exhibit Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

The hippopotamus is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, known as the IUCN. The primary threats to hippos are illegal and unregulated hunting for meat and ivory (found in the canine teeth) and habitat loss. Hippos can still be found in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on May 21, 2015, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo.