Harry the hungry hippo gives his happy handler a loving lick
PUBLISHED: 06:05 EST, 28 March 2012 | UPDATED: 10:49 EST, 28 March 2
Adorable Harry the hippopotamus is no stick-in-the-mud when it comes to making friends with humans.
The six-day-old pygmy hippo calf is filling the time of his doting carers after being rejected by his mother at birth.
The 11lb baby was born last Thursday at a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa and requires round-the-clock care.
But the regal little Harry – named after the Prince – has brought joy to the whole centre, according to Rob Hall, the reserve’s manager.
Handler Toni Inggs looks after the mud-loving creature at the privately-run Cango Wildlife Ranch.
The pygmy hippo – who will not grow to more than three feet tall – requires 125ml of milk around every three hours.
His parents have been returned to an external enclosure, while Harry lives like a monarch in a special suite at the sanctuary.
Mr Hall said: ‘We were absolutely delighted when Harry arrived on Thursday.
‘His parents Hilda and Herbert mated successfully last year and we waited patiently for the result.
‘Hilda was pregnant for 210 days before Harry arrived in the early hours of Thursday.
‘Sadly Hilda struggled with being a mother and showed no maternal instinct so we have removed him and are rearing him by hand.
‘He’s an active little thing and is keeping Toni busy day and night.’
The Cango Wildlife Ranch said the arrival of Harry was a massive boost to his species, which has been declared critically endangered after experts warned there were fewer than 3,000 left in the wild.
The centre specialises in the breeding of endangered species, including cheetahs, tigers and crocodiles.
Pygmy hippos are nocturnal animals who live largely underwater and wait until nightfall before emerging to eat leaves and grass.
They will only ever reach around a fifth of the size of their bigger cousin, the common hippo.
The rare animals originate from the swamps of western Africa but have become threatened by the loss of their native habitat.
Harry was born after a prolonged breeding programme at Cango, which is located in the town of Oudtshoorn, east of Cape Town.
Mr Hall said the tiny calf was the eighth born to Hilda – and sadly just the third to survive.
He added: ‘We saw that Hilda wasn’t feeding him and realised we had to make an intervention so stepped in and are doing it ourselves.
‘Harry needs to drink 125ml of milk around every three hours, which means looking after him is a full time job.
‘He will need that level of care for the first three months and after that might start to feed himself.’
‘We’re so pleased that he’s with us and we’re confident he’ll grow strong.
‘We knew we wanted to call him something beginning with H and and it suddenly struck us to name him Harry after the prince.
‘Our team here loves Prince Harry as he shows true grit and is passionate about Africa.
‘Our little guy is already proving he’s made of similar stuff and is determined to make the most of life.’