The ABQ BioPark Zoo is home to a family of four hippopotamuses: mom Karen, dad Moe, daughter Boopie and son Brynn, who was born in April 2015. Baby Brynn matures more every day and is a big fan of dad. Rumor has it that Brynn likes to sneak over to hang out with his papa during meal time.
Karen is a Texas girl, arriving at the BioPark by way of the San Antonio Zoo in 2004. Moe was born in Calgary and spent most of his life in Utah’s Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City before coming to the ABQ BioPark and meeting Karen in 2005. The rest is history.
In the wild, hippo herds typically consist of one alpha bull and a group of females along with their young offspring. Young males usually leave their group and live alone or with other juvenile males until they come of age. As they mature, they may challenge males in other herds in order to become the new head honcho.
The common hippopotamus, native to Africa, spends the majority of its life in water except to eat—at night they leave the water to graze on grass. To stay cool during hot days, these tank-sized mammals hang out in the water or mud.
Hippos are huge goofballs, but a lot of people forget how dangerous they can be, according to one BioPark hippo keeper. With 2,000 pounds per square inch of force in their bite—this is the strongest among all mammals and more force than gorillas, polar bears and bull sharks—they can inflict serious damage, and are known to be aggressive to other animals and humans alike. In fact, they kill thousands of people each year.
Hippos are intelligent giants, thus BioPark hippos receive a variety of enrichment items in their habitat—they especially love round objects that roll. Look for balls and other toys next time you stop by the hippopotamus exhibit.
Our Actions Matter
Hippos are currently listed as a vulnerable species. Major threats include habitat loss, poaching for their ivory teeth and trophy hunting. You can help protect hippos by:
- Not buying ivory products.
- Supporting organizations like the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is working on protecting wild hippos.