Hip, Hip Hooray for Hippo Day at Melbourne Zoo
Melbourne's Zoo's popular Pygmy Hippopotamus – Felix - has enthusiastically tucked into an underwater meal to mark today’s World Hippo Day.
The underwater meals promote the Pygmy Hippopotamus's natural feeding behaviours, with Zoo visitors able to
watch Felix devour his leafy lunch through a glass walled cave.
Melbourne Zoo Ungulates Keeper Arthur Blackham said leafy vegetation, known as browse, was regularly submerged
in the large body of water that is part of Felix's home at the Zoo.
“It’s something that Felix really enjoys and it highlights how these animals actually graze naturally," Mr Blackham
"Hippos graze underwater, then they come up and expel all the water out of their mouth and chew their food and
then go back down. In the wild they would be grazing on river grasses underwater, as well as grazing on land."
Mr Blackham said the underwater feeds are part of Melbourne Zoo's enrichment program for Felix.
As a Pygmy Hippopotamus, Felix weighs in at a modest 260kg, compared to the Common Hippopotamuses found at
Werribee Open Range Zoo that typically weigh about 1500kg.
Native to the forests and swamps of Western Africa, Pygmy Hippopotamus numbers in the wild are declining due to
human threats, such as habitat loss, mining and hunting, and the species is classified as Endangered by the
International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.
Melbourne Zoo is part of a breeding program for this Endangered species.