A baby hippo had a splashing time at Whipsnade Zoo after taking a debut dip in the public pool.
The five-week-old common hippo calf had been snuggled up to mum, Lola, in their private dens before making its first appearance in the big pool.
Born just after 9am on December 11, the tiny tot is Lola and dad Hoover’s second calf and is thought to be a little girl, but its sex is yet to be confirmed. Meanwhile, keepers have nicknamed the youngster Nelly.
Zookeeper Steve White said: “After a few tentative steps on the water’s edge, Nelly was soon enjoying paddling around in the pool and blowing bubbles under the surface as she explored her new surroundings. She’s extremely playful and inquisitive and loves nothing more than watching what’s going on around her. She was standing and suckling just an hour after she was born, and mum’s been doing a brilliant job really helping her to thrive.”
Born after an eight month gestation period, baby Nelly will one day weigh a whopping 1400kg (220st) when she’s fully grown, and reach up to 1.6 metres in height. Classed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and under threat from poaching and habitat loss in the wild, Nelly is a much welcomed addition to the European Studbook for common hippos.