A pygmy hippo which is battling against cancer managed to give birth at Whipsnade Zoo over Christmas, it has emerged.
After six hours of labour on Boxing Day, 28-year-old Flora gave birth to a seven kilo male calf.
Flora was featured in ITV’s documentary series ‘The Zoo’ last year, and although she is still living with a tumour in her mouth, vets say she has responded fantastically well to treatment and the cancer did not affect her pregnancy at all.
The tiny hippo calf, which has not yet been named, is a boon for the zoo as there is a shortage of male pygmy hippos within the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.
Senior Keeper Steve White said: “Flora’s calf was due on Christmas Day, but the little one kept us waiting until the evening of Boxing Day.
“We knew Flora must be going into labour because she went off her food– which never happens!
“Since then, the baby hippo has been happily waddling around and seems to love spending time in water. On his first weigh-in, he was so slippery it was like picking up a big bar of soap!
“We’re delighted for Flora, who has come through a difficult year and is now proving once again to be an attentive, experienced mum.
“She’s contributed three calves to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme and she’ll now retire from breeding.”