Critically Endangered Baby Pygmy Hippo Takes Her First Swim (Video)

A young hippo at the Taronga Park Zoo in Australia has made a splash—by starring in a video of her first forays into the water. The pygmy hippopotamus, named Monifa, was born at the zoo via a difficult breach birth. Since then, she has been raised by zookeepers while her mother recovers.

Native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, pygmy hippos are an elusive, nocturnal species rarely seen in the wild. With fewer than 3,000 individuals left in the wild, the pygmy hippopotamus is considered critically endangered; the species faces threats from habitat loss, poaching, natural predators, and political instability in the region.

This vulnerability in the wild makes captive breeding programs—like the one at Taronga—essential for the survival of the species.

So, how did Monifa's first swim turn out? The eight-week-old hippo was "keen as mustard" to venture into the deep water, according to one zookeeper.

Tags: Animals | Conservation | Endangered Species