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A very happy hippo birthday
Pansy, the youngest member of Werribee Open Range Zoo’s hippopotamus bloat, celebrated her 5th birthday today with devoted mum Brindabella by her side.
The birthday girl enjoyed a healthy, tropical-themed cake made from an assortment of her favourite fruits and vegetables, flowers and a pumpkin carved with the number five.
Zoo Keeper Yvette Pauligk remembers the day Pansy was born, recalling her first tentative steps into the world.
“We gave her and her mum space, monitoring the pair with cameras and keeping our distance,” she said. “Within a couple of days Pansy was up and feeding, even coming up to the keepers to say ‘hi’.”
Ms Pauligk said Pansy showed a curious and playful nature from an early age.
“She would often nibble on her mum’s toes and tummy,” she said. “She was also very interested in what the keepers were up to, quietly looking on as we cleaned the enclosure or set out their food.”
Although Pansy currently weighs more than 800kg, she still has a lot of growing to do – adult female hippos can weigh up to 1300kg and live to as old as 50 years.
Ms Pauligk has seen young Pansy grow into a healthy and happy hippo, who is still very close to her mum.
“Pansy is responding really well to welfare training programs,” she said. “And while she’s quite self-reliant, she will still often follow her mum’s lead.”
Pansy and the rest of the Werribee Open Range Zoo hippo bloat are important ambassadors for hippos in the wild, raising awareness of their plight. The population of hippos in Africa has declined dramatically in recent years due to habitat loss and poaching.
Learn more about these elegant giants at the free Hippo Talk every day at 1:10pm.