Baby Care

Zookeepers devastated by ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘sudden’ death of endangered calf

An adorable pygmy hippo has died at that of Sydney Taronga Zoo after only a month in the world.

The zoo announced the death on Wednesday evening, saying the calf – whose name, Amara, was due to be revealed shortly – died suddenly on Friday afternoon.

“The ‘little leggy watermelon,’ as it was affectionately known, was born in late November and in a relatively short time has captured the hearts of guests and caretakers,” the zoo said on social media.

Gone swimming
Taronga Zoo’s new pygmy hippo calf debuted on December 9. (Taronga Zoo)

“She was found unconscious on Christmas Eve evening and it was unfortunately confirmed that she was deceased.

“Preliminary results from Taronga’s veterinary team indicate a potential problem with her heart.”

Vets are still investigating and keeping a close watch on the calf’s parents, Kambri and Fergus.

The zookeepers offered the public three names to choose from: Amara, which means “filled with beauty and grace” and is of West African descent; Sierra, after the country of Sierra Leone; and Sapo, after Sapo National Park located in Sinoe County, Liberia. (Taronga Zoo)

The zoo said there was “no indication of trauma or mishap.”

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

The dwarf hippopotamus, the second from Kambri, had made her public debut just 20 days ago, looking tiny splashing around in the water with her mother.

“Our mother and calf duo are doing really well,” said Renae Moss, ungulate keeper at Taronga Zoo at the time.

“Kambri is an excellent mother. She is extremely maternal and very protective and our calf is getting more and more confident every day, more and more energetic.

Baby Animals First Christmas

Baby animals celebrate their very first Christmas

“In the beginning she slept most of the day – slept and fed like any newborn baby, but now she’s exploring her surroundings and today she takes a really good look at her exhibit.”

Ms Moss said there are less than 3,000 pygmy hippos left in the wild, making births in zoos “extremely valuable”.

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