Pygmy hippopotamus in exhibit

Pygmy Hippopotamus

Scientific Name

Choeropsis liberiensis liberiensis






Primarily Liberia and some other West African nations



Estimated Wild Population

Less than 3,000
Pygmy hippopotamus in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Endangered IUCN Conservation Status: Endangered

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Physical Description

Pygmy hippopotamuses were named for their relatively diminuitive stature compared to their much larger cousin, but these semi-aquatic mammals can still reach six feet in length and 600 pounds in weight. Their gray skin is smooth except for bristles on their lips and tail. Pygmy hippos spend much of their time in the water, as their skin dries out without frequent moisture. At night, they venture into the forest in search of plants and fruit.

Interesting Fact 1

Their eyes, ears, and nose are located on the top of their head, enabling them to see, smell, and hear while the rest of their body is underwater.

Interesting Fact 2

Their skin secretes a red substance, giving rise to the legend that they sweat blood. In reality, the substance acts as a natural sunblock.

Interesting Fact 3

Pygmy hippos can pinch their ears and nostrils closed when diving underwater.

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We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

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