Hip, Hippo, Hooray!

In honor of National Hippo Day, the Oklahoma City Zoo celebrates its pygmy hippos: Francesca (Franny) and Wolee.

Francesca turned 26 in December, which coincided with her move to the Zoo. She is settling in nicely at her new habitat and started exploring outside on warmer days. She and Wolee alternate going out in the hippo habitat on nice days. Francesca is very curious, enjoys enrichment activities and spending time with her caretakers. She will immediately get up and come to the door to check us out and see if we have any treats. She has a big appetite and loves produce.

Francesca already knows several behaviors and is very smart and eager to learn. One of our first priorities was to gain her trust. Through positive reinforcement training sessions we have been able to get more hands on and build that relationship. We are working to teach Franny basic behaviors as well as more advanced behaviors for medical care.

Wolee is doing great. He turned 43 last September and he is getting along really well. As the oldest living male pygmy hippo in human care, he is slower at training and adjusting to new things than Franny, but he eventually comes around. Francesca being here has been enriching for him. Though they don’t cohabitate, he’s been actively investigating her through the divider. They often sleep on each side of the dividing walls close to each other. Pygmy hippos are solitary except for breeding so there are no plans at this time to house them together.

There are only about 3,000 of these awesome creatures left in the wild. Human encroachment, unsustainable logging and hunting for meat has their population on the decline. They like to make tunnels in the low lying forests to hide and raise their young near swampy areas. As the forests dwindle so does their habitat. The Zoo supports conservation through Round Up for Conservation. If you visit a restaurant, or gift shop on grounds you can round your change up to the next dollar. That small change goes to make bigger change! Every penny adds up and really helps make a bigger impact on the saving of species!

Come visit Wolee and Francesca at the OKC Zoo’s pachyderm habitat!

-Crystal Querry, animal caretaker

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