Harry the hippo off to a good start

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st Harry and Toni Inggs

SHAUN SMILLIE

He is a hippo and you can carry him. You can also bath him and feed him.

Harry was born last Thursday morning at the Cango Wildlife Ranch near Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape.

The baby pygmy hippo clocked in at 5.1kg – a healthy weight, say his handlers.

Harry had to be hand-reared after his mother refused to feed him.

Another concern was that his mother would accidentally crush him. “Pygmy hippo mothers are either great moms or silly moms. She unfortunately has lost a few of her babies after she squashed them,” said Rob Hall, the operations director at the ranch.

Looking after Harry requires a round-the-clock routine. He is fed every three hours with a mixture of ideal milk and water, and for the moment he glugs down 125ml of milk per feed. Straight after feeding, he is given a bath.

“You need to keep his skin moist,” explained Hall.

Pygmy hippos are rare. They are found in West Africa – particularly Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast – and there are believed to be only 3 000 of them in the wild.

“They have been threatened by the bushmeat trade in these countries,” Hall said.

Harry was named after Prince Harry, and the owners felt that they had to keep with the tradition of using names that begin with H. Harry’s mother’s name is Hilda and his father is Herbert.

“These animals are such great characters, and we can see this with Harry,” said Hall.

When Harry grows up

“we will find a mate for him”, said Hall.


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