Pygmy Hippo

Pygmy Hippo    Choeropsis liberiensis

Type of Animal:

Forests, swamps, rivers, streams

Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast

Fat, stout animal, often mistaken for common hippo calf. Much smaller than common hippo. Branched tail hairs. Large tusk-like canine teeth found on male and female. Toes less webbed than much larger cousins. Longer legs than common hippos.

Succulents, aquatic plants, shoots, leaves, roots, grasses, fruit, ferns, broad-leaf plants

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks

Solitary, though sometimes seen in male-female pairs

Additional Info:


Male-400-600 lbs
Female-350-550 lbs
Young-10-20 lbs

6-7 months

2.3-3 ft

Body Length:
5-6 ft

Life Span:
Up to 40 years

Tail Length:
6-10.8 in

Main predators are leopards, crocodiles, & pythons.

Same-sex individuals sometimes fight to the death if they cross each other’s paths.

Though endangered in wild, they breed well in captivity.

Males known to kill calves that are not their own.

Endangered due to habitat loss, deforestation, hunting for meat/ivory, killing of individuals as crop pests, civil war, & political unrest.

Very rarely seen in wild due to endangered status, nocturnal habits, & secretive habits.

Traditionally known as a water cow in Liberia.

Early field reports misidentified animal as wild hog.

Skin secretes pink fluid called blood sweat helping protect animal from sunburn.

Fun Fact(s):
Though often found in water, they can’t actually swim. Rather, they’re very buoyant so they walk in water.

Despite smaller size, Pygmy Hippos are extremely dangerous animals, especially if female has a calf. Also, tusk-like canine teeth are capable of biting person in half. However, they’re much shier than their larger cousins & prefer to run rather than fight back.

Scientists now believe that closest relatives to hippos aren’t pigs but whales.

Almost all Pygmy Hippos in N. American zoos direct descendants of a male named Billy. Billy was a gift given to U.S president Calvin Coolidge from Harvey Firestone. He lived from the 1920s- 1955. At the time of his death, Billy had sired 13 surviving calves. After Coolidge left office, Billy was given to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

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