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25 March 2013

Melbourne Zoo keepers are hoping that it won’t be too long before they hear the pitter-patter of petite Pygmy Hippopotamus hooves!

Adult female Petre has arrived from Taronga Zoo as part of the regional breeding program for this endangered African rainforest species. She will be paired with Felix, a male born at the Cairns Wildlife Safari.

Felix arrived here as a three-year-old, so he had not bred before being transferred to Melbourne Zoo as part of the regional breeding program. Now Felix is six years old, he is old enough to breed.

Petre is now 28 years old, and already a mother, with her female calf Kambiri remaining at Taronga Zoo.

Curator Peter Courtney says that once keepers are confident that Petre has settled in, they will introduce the pair at a time when she is fertile.

Keepers will be closely monitoring their behaviours to judge when the time will be right for the introduction.

There may be as few as 3,000 pygmy hippos surviving in their native habitat: streams and swamps in lowland forests from Sierra Leone to Nigeria, including Liberia, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast.