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Posted by portugalpress on May 16, 2018

His name is “Robert”, he is a baby pygmy hippopotamus that was born last month at Lagos Zoo, and not only is he adorable, he is bringing great hope to the conservation of the species.

Robert was born at the zoo on April 7 in what has been described as a “very rare occurrence”.

“In every 10 pygmy hippopotamuses that are born, nine are female. Males are desperately needed to guarantee the conservation of the species,” zoo director Paulo Figueiras told the Resident.

Not only are males rare, it is even rarer for pygmy hippos to be born in captivity.

The species is red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is considered endangered due mostly to deforestation.

Pygmy hippos are herbivorous mammals native to the forests and swamps of West Africa and are sometimes described as the “reclusive and nocturnal” of the regular hippo.

According to the IUCN, “the pygmy hippo is rarely seen because of its secretive, nocturnal habits and consequently not much is known of its ecology”.

It adds that these hippos are solitary “except when a female is accompanied by young or during the brief association of a breeding pair”.

Only around 2,000 to 3,000 of these hippos are believed to live in the wild.

Robert is the offspring of two of the zoo’s pygmy hippos – Flory, a female hippo that has lived at the zoo since 2011 when she was transferred from the Rotterdam Zoo; and Albert, a male that moved to Lagos last year from ZooParc Overloon in the Netherlands.

For now, he is still learning the basics like swimming with the support of his mum, and visitors have been delighted by just how adorable he is.

“Hopefully he will play a very important role in the conservation of the species,” Figueiras concluded.