Silas, a male pygmy hippopotamus at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, celebrated his first birthday today in the Lied Jungle® with birthday décor, browse and a cake made from sweet potatoes, grain and yogurt frosting.
Silas can be seen in the Lied Jungle’s African rainforest with his mother, Chomel, a 19-year-old from Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois.
Silas’ first recorded weight was taken on May 2, 2018 at a mere 16.5 pounds. He currently tips the scale at 264 pounds. Full-grown pygmy hippos can weigh between 350 and 600 pounds and are about one-eighth to one-fifth the size of the common hippopotamus.
This is the first pygmy hippo calf that has been in a habitat in the Lied Jungle® since 2015, and only the fourth since the Lied Jungle® opened in 1992.
Pygmy hippos are native to rainforests and swamplands in western Africa, primarily Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast. They are solitary animals and spend about six hours a day foraging for food, mainly in the evening. Their preferred diet consists of ferns and broad-leaved plants, but are known to uproot other swamp plants and graze on forest weeds.
The species is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species with less than 2,500 remaining in the wild. Hunting and habitat destruction and degradation by commercial palm oil plantations are the main causes of the pygmy hippo’s decline. There are 27 pygmy hippos across 11 Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited institutions.