Tuesdays Are Play Days for Growing Hippo Baby at San Diego Zoo

Since she was born on March 23, Devi, a five-month-old baby hippo at the San Diego Zoo, has been growing in both size and personality. As she was let out into the hippo pool this morning along with her mom, Funani, she immediately began a boisterous activity session. These usually last two hours or more.

John Michel, senior animal keeper at the San Diego Zoo, noted that Devi is now completely comfortable with using the deepest part of the pool, where she can practice her newly learned maneuver: a “barrel roll.” She was also having a great time on Tuesday, Sept. 1 playing with a piece of plant material that floated by. Devi is still nursing (hippo calves nurse for up to a year), but she is starting to pick up and mouth food that Funani is eating.

In the wild, hippos spend up to 16 hours a day in the water, so having access to the pool four days a week provides Devi a chance to kick up her heels and play like any youngster. It also gives her the opportunity to thrive by building muscles and learning important maneuvers from mom that she would need in the wild, to protect her from predators.

Devi and her mom share the exhibit with Devi’s father, Otis. Mother and daughter can be seen on exhibit Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The hippopotamus is listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The primary threats to hippos are illegal and unregulated hunting for meat and the ivory found in their 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, 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.