Pygmy Hippopotamus/MandriII exhibit at Melbourne Zoo.
International Zoo Yearbook 33: 252-262
Melbourne Zoo has recently developed a naturalistic West African tropical rain‐forest exhibit for Pygmy hippopotamuses Choeropsis liberiensis and Mandrills Mandrillus sphinx. The design of the enclosures was commenced in 1989 and the growing and planting of appropriate vegetation took three years. Once the animals were transferred to the exhibit various water‐management problems had to be resolved and some plant destruction occurred.
The Pygmy Hippopotamus Choeropsis liberiensis (Morton, 1849): Bringing to Light Research Priorities for the Largely Forgotten, Smaller Hippo Species.
Das Zwergflusspferd Choeropsis liberiensis (Morton, 1849): Überblick der Literatur und wichtige Forschungsthemen für das oft vergessene kleinere Flusspferd.
Zool. Garten N.F. 84 (2015): 234-265. ISSN 0044-5169.
An endangered species, the pygmy hippo (Choeropsis liberiensis Morton, 1849) has been housed in captivity since the early 1900s, but systematic, prospective research and peer-reviewed literature remain limited in comparison to other IUCN-listed, charismatic mega fauna. There are just over 350 animals in the ex situ population worldwide, so it is an uncommon resident in zoological collections compared to the larger, ‘common’ or Nile hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius).
Most published information for the pygmy hippo constitutes descriptive accounts of first-hand experiences in various zoological institutions. Here we review, analyze and provide a synthesis of the pertinent literature, aiming to identify and prioritize focal research topics for optimizing ex situ management. The pygmy hippo is continually reported to breed well and thus long-term survival of the species, at least in captivity, is assumed, although we identify several reasons to exercise caution.
Further, we demonstrate that the common perception amongst zoological institutions that the pygmy hippo is easy to manage and experiences limited health and husbandry issues is erroneous. Specific issues affecting the captive population with potential negative implications for long-term sustainability include polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a female-biased sex ratio, obesity, a high neonatal mortality rate, and failure of many breeding pairs to reproduce. We identify several research priorities to help address these concerns, and how the resulting information can be applied to improve management, health and welfare of pygmy hippos in captivity.
International Studbook for the Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis Morton, 1844) 2014.
Updated, 31 December 2014
21st Edition, published by Zoo Basel, Switzerland, 2015 (first edition 1975)
All the data of the annual reports returned by 16 February 2015 were included in this edition. This year, 121 out of 139 institutions that keep pygmy hippos responded to our annual questionnaire.
This studbook lists a total of 1454 (585.810.59) pygmy hippos. On 31 December 2014, the International Studbook records 367 (142.222.3) living pygmy hippopotami kept in 139 institutions. The EEP population comprises a total of 126 (49.78) living individuals in 53 institutions.
The usage of this studbook is to show where and how many pygmy hippos are held in captivity. Moreover, the studbook information is used for regular in-depth regional and global demographic and genetic analyses of the living population. Since pygmy hippos are kept on all continents, all regions benefit from this studbook, and in particular Europe and North America, where coordinated breeding programmes exist, which depend on the studbook information for their functioning.
The total number of captive pygmy hippos includes:
45.67 (112) animals in 38 institutions in the Asian region;
2.2 (4) animals in 2 institutions in the Australasian region;
51.94 (145) animals in 62 institutions in the European region;
28.45.3 (76) animals in 18 institutions in the North American region;
4.3 (7) animals in 4 institutions in the Central and South American regions;
12.11 (23) in 12 institutions in the African region.
The focus of this edition of the studbook is on education. It presents various activities that zoos and conservation organisations perform to educate the public on pygmy hippo biology, conservation and threats. Methods include signage, presentations and interactive methods, such as touch tables. There is also an article on the impact of keepers’ talks on visitors’ knowledge of this species. In addition, children conservation education initiatives and programmes in schools and communities adjacent to Sapo National Park in Liberia presented. In Sierra Leone, educational activies comprise meetings with communities, roadshows, drama, presentation and quizzes at schools, nature clubs at schools, forest excursions and drawing competitions for school children, mural paintings, activities on World Environment Day and the development of environmental education materials for the distribution in villages, schools, to GRNP staff members and various stakeholders.
I hope that all these ideas and activities will inspire other zoos to give the pygmy hippos in their zoos a higher profile.