Love was in the air at Taronga Zoo with two endangered pygmy hippos enjoying their first meeting.
And it looks like things went well with the couple even coming nose-to-nose.
“It may look a bit like hippo kisses, but that’s how Pygmy Hippos interact and get to know one another. They interact with their noses and also show their strength and dominance with open mouth gesturing,” according to Johny Wade, a keeper at the zoo.
“We didn’t see any aggressive behaviour. They were playful and excited by the interactions, playing in the water together and having a little chase around on land.”
When six-year-old Kambiri began showing signs of oestrus, also known as going into heat, keepers decided the time was right to introduce her to Fergus.
Following the successful “first date”, the two pygmy hippos will have daily visits over the next two weeks that will hopefully lead to mating. Kambiri was the last calf born at Taronga back in 2010.
Pygmy Hippos are classified as endangered. Due to their dense rainforest habitat their exact population size is unknown, but most estimates suggest there are around 3,000 animals left in the wild.
A shy and solitary animal, the pygmy hippo hides in forests and swamps.
While the pygmy may look like a smaller version of its larger relative, but there are marked physical and behavioural characteristics between the two. With less webbed feet and longer legs, the pygmy hippo is less adapted to the water than the common hippopotamus.
[Images and video: Paul Fahy, Taronga Zoo]