The Dallas Morning News

First baby hippo delivered at new exhibit dies

Mother didn’t help calf to pool surface soon enough, official says

- By CLAIRE Z. CARDONA Staff Writer Twitter: @clairezcar­dona

The Dallas Zoo’s female hippopotam­us gave birth Saturday to her first calf, but the animal did not survive, the zoo announced.

The zoo said it had been keeping the news of Boipelo’s first pregnancy under wraps because staff could not predict how she would react to the birth and baby.

“We always put an emphasis on allowing animals to express natural behaviors, so we gave Boipelo space to interact with the baby immediatel­y after the birth,” Harrison Edell, vice president of animal operations and welfare, said in a written statement. “The calf arrived just after 6:30 a.m., and while Boipelo did assist the calf to the surface of the pool, it was not soon enough.”

The situation was reviewed and “we know for certain there was no safe way for the staff to intervene to help the calf,” Edell said.

Boipelo and her mate Adhama were highly celebrated additions to the zoo when they moved to Dallas last March and into the new $14 million Simmons Hippo Outpost exhibit. Before that, the zoo had not had a hippo since 2001, when its last one died.

The two hippos were paired through a recommenda­tion from the Associatio­n of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

The zoo said it had been closely monitoring Boipelo over the last few months — hippo gestation is about 243 days — and took sonogram images of the calf. The zoo is monitoring the female hippo as she recovers, but said she is healthy.

“It’s a tough day for our entire zoo family,” the zoo said in a statement. “Our hearts are heavy, but we so appreciate your support and well-wishes.”

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