TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Fla., zoo said the birth of a rare pygmy hippopotamus is an important milestone for the preservation of the species.
Dr. Larry Killmar, vice president of animal science and conservation for the zoo, said the as-yet-unnamed female pygmy hippo was born last week to mother Zsa Zsa, who previously gave birth to a calf in 2008, the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times reported Wednesday.
Killmar said there are thought to be only a few thousand of the animals remaining in the wild and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums said there were a total 54 pygmy hippos at accredited zoos in North America before the birth.
"The birth of this rare and endangered nocturnal forest species marks only the 55th individual in the managed population within North American and underlines the importance of our conservation efforts," Killmar said. "With fewer than 3,000 pigmy hippos in the wild, each birth is vital if we have any hope of saving this truly unique species."