"Each new birth contributes to the continued survival of this endangered species, and we are thrilled by this success."
There is a new and happy mama at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and the zoo's staff are ensuring that the little guy is being given a wonderful welcome. The Zoo New England announced on their website that they have reason to celebrate after Cleopatra, their pygmy hippopotamus, gave birth to a baby boy.
On October 5, the mother pygmy hippo, who is also lovingly called Cleo, birthed the male calf at the Franklin Park Zoo while the veterinary team kept a close watch to make sure she had a smooth delivery.
"Say hello to our tiny new addition: a male pygmy hippo," Franklin Park Zoo wrote on Facebook. "This adorable little calf was born on October 5 and his arrival marks the first ever successful birth of this endangered species for Zoo New England! Years of careful work, planning, and dedication by our animal care and veterinary staff contributed to this birth."
Weighing 13 pounds, the pygmy hippo calf looked strong and healthy right from the beginning. "The calf was immediately so bright, strong and aware, and was holding his head up right away," said Dr. Eric Baitchman, Zoo New England Vice President of Animal Health and Conservation, according to the statement put up on the Zoo New England website. "The calf was introduced to Cleo soon after birth and was nursing within a few hours."
Throughout her pregnancy, Cleo was closely monitored and her care team worked hard to ensure both the mama and baby were healthy. The birth of every newborn matters in ensuring that this endangered species does not disappear, and so, the staff was determined to make the delivery a success. The zoo's Facebook post added, "Zoo New England participates in the Pygmy Hippo Species Survival Plan, and each new birth contributes to the continued survival of this species."
Cleo's newborn calf is a welcome addition to the zoo, especially after the mother pygmy hippo gave birth to stillborn babies in the past two years. Back in the month of March, 2020, the team discovered that Cleo was pregnant again and wanted to ensure everything was smooth. They continued monitoring the baby through ultrasounds.
It was decided that this time, when it was time for the baby to come out, the team would induce labor because they believe Cleo lost her calves in the past because of prolonged labor.
The birthing process began on October 3 when Cleo was prepared for labor after the team gave her the first hormone injection. About 24 hours later, a second injection was given to the pygmy hippo. Regular ultrasounds were taken and the team kept observing and monitoring Cleo the entire time. It was finally on October 5 when the team noticed signs of labor when they observed Cleo. However, there were still no contractions, according to the zoo's statement.
The team tried to induce contractions by giving Cleo oxytocin injections but that didn't seem to work. The team then manually delivered the calf and out the baby was finally birthed in a safe environment. With Cleo's baby being the first pygmy hippo born at the zoo, Dr. Eric Baitchman said, "Each new birth contributes to the continued survival of this endangered species, and we are thrilled by this success. This is the result of years of teamwork and commitment, and I am incredibly proud of the Zoo team."
Boston's Franklin Park Zoo shouted "Hip Hip Hooray!” as it celebrated its first pygmy hippo birth. https://t.co/k8Clge76Qq— NECN (@NECN) October 13, 2020
Taking a moment to thank those involved, Dr. Baitchman added, "We are also grateful to Dr. Carlos Gradil, a veterinary reproductive specialist in the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who also holds an adjunct appointment at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, for his expert guidance and assistance throughout Cleo’s pregnancy and delivery."