Pittsburgh zoo welcomes a young pygmy hippo named Hadari

Pygmy hippo in water
Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium

Brace yourself: critical levels of cuteness ahead.

Hadari, a 1-year-old male pygmy hippopotamus, recently made a cross-country move — and he’s settling in nicely at his new home.

Born at the Montgomery Zoo in Alabama, Hadari is a rarity in an already-rare species. According to a press release from his new digs, the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, only 41% of zoo-bred pygmy hippos are born male.

With fewer than 3,000 pygmy hippos living in the wild, Hadari’s birth was an important one and his future breeding potential could help increase genetic diversity in the species. The zoo celebrated with a cute post on Facebook:

Pygmy hippos are more mysterious than their much larger relative, the common hippopotamus. They live primarily in West Africa — these days, mostly in Liberia, according to the Pygmy Hippo Foundation — while common hippos are more widespread across the continent.

Pygmy hippos grow to about 3 feet tall and almost 6 feet long. They can weigh 350 to 800 pounds. That sounds pretty hefty until you consider that male common hippos can top 5 feet at the shoulder and tip the scales at almost 10,000 pounds.

Pygmy hippos are also nocturnal and tend to be solitary. Most of what we know about them is from observation in captivity, says the PHF, and they’re the subject of legends in their home habitat. (My personal fave tale is that they carry diamonds in their mouths to light the way as they trot through the dark forest.)


Hadari replaces another Pittsburgh Zoo pygmy hippo, a male named Jahari who went to John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in hopes of making a love connection through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

So far, Hadari seems to be making himself at home by doing all the things you’d expect of a young fellow.

”Hadari is trying out everything, every which way,” said Pittsburgh Zoo’s curator of mammals, Kelsey Forbes, in the zoo’s press release. “He is super rambunctious, loves exploring, and is a confident hippo.”

Sounds like a fun dude! If you’re in the area, pop in and say hi — Hadari’s new home is in the zoo’s Jungle Odyssey section.

Animals, News, Wild Animals
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About the Author
Kathleen St. John
Kathleen St. John is a freelance journalist. She lives in Denver with her husband, two kids and a fiercely protective Chihuahua.

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