Perfectly Pudgy Newborn Hippo Arrives at the San Diego Zoo

Welcome to the world, tiny, adorable river horse!

Baby Hippo
Funani, mother of the new baby hippo, is shown here in 2003 with one of her previous offspring. The new calf isn't quite so rotund yet. Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo/HO/Reuters/Corbis

The world got a little cuter early Monday morning when Funani, a female hippopotamus at the San Diego Zoo gave birth to a big bundle of joy. Keepers report that both mother and baby are doing well, with the calf nursing regularly and swimming relatively smoothly (with Mom’s help, of course). 

No one yet knows the gender of the wrinkly little tyke—zookeepers are giving Funani and her offspring room to get acquainted. But they’ve got confidence in her mothering abilities. At 30 years old, this is Funani’s 11th calf, since 1989. The baby’s father is her mate, Otis, reports NBC San Diego. And boy, did they create one charmingly chubby mini hippo.

Hippo calves usually weigh in at around 50 pounds at birth and nurse from their mothers for around eight months. And while this little one’s small scale may be crazy cute, if all goes well, it will grow to be huge—between 3,000 an 9,000 pounds, depending on its gender.

That size will help it live up to its species reputation as being one of the most dangerous mammals on Earth. In the sub-Sahara African lakes and rivers where hippos are found in the wild, they are known to kill humans, often by trampling or drowning those they feel threaten them, their territory, or their young.   

Visitors to the San Diego Zoo can get a safe, first-hand view of mother and calf—as long as they are willing to wait a while for the baby to wake up, cautioned Senior Keeper John Michel.

Meanwhile, Twitter lets us all marvel from afar. And the baby is worth savoring even beyond its coo-inducing looks. Hippopotamuses are classified as a vulnerable species due to habitat loss and hunting. So one more hippo in the world means good things for fans of both cuteness and conservation. 

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