Run Wild Races VI @ the Metro Richmond Zoo Spring

Sat May 6, 2023 Moseley, VA 23120 US Directions

Run Wild Races VI @ the Metro Richmond Zoo Spring

Donation Goal: $1,000

"The hippopotamus is surely among the most familiar – and most conspicuous – of Africa’s megafauna. Its pocket-sized relative, the lesser-known and endangered pygmy hippo, is an entirely different matter. Nocturnal, elusive and mainly solitary, these denizens of the deep forest are very rarely seen, or even heard.

Don’t be misled by the name; they may be nominally associated with miniature marmosets and small-scale shrews, but pygmy hippos still top the scales at a hefty quarter of a tonne or more. Nevertheless, they are dwarfed by their colossal cousins. Nose to tail, the pygmy hippo is half the length of its common counterpart, but the real difference is in bulk; it is outweighed by a factor of ten.

Rotund, thick-necked and hairless, pygmy hippos derive their glossy sheen from the tiny mucus glands that pock-mark their sun-sensitive skin. They frequent forested waterways, where they spend the day in rivers and swamps before emerging to feed at night on a variety of grasses, shoots and fallen fruit.

 The reclusive and elusive pygmy hippopotamus is native to riverine forest and swamps in West Africa, with most populations confined to Liberia. Credit: Mark R Higgins/Adobe

Confined to a dwindling number of suitable sites in West Africa, pygmy hippos continue to decline drastically in number, due mainly to habitat loss and hunting. Deforestation as a result of mining, logging, agricultural expansion and other forms of human encroachment has fragmented the remaining population and left many of them living in closer proximity to people, which in turn increases the risk of further disturbance or unsustainable levels of hunting for meat.

The vast bulk – in both senses – of the world’s remaining pygmy hippos are found in Liberia, although smaller populations still survive across the border in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone. A subspecies formerly found in Nigeria is now thought to be extinct." - Fauna Flora


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