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Hippos in the USA

 
 
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  #1
Cool Hippos in the USA
Old 23-10-2008

I've seen during my two travels to the States in many zoos small and old hippo exhibits, mostly with just one or two hippos and no zoo is breeding now hippos in the USA. A few zoos will stop keeping them, whats the reason for that ? So I've seen old hippo enclosures at L.A.,Fort Worth,Cleveland,San Antonio and Detroit and some formely hippo exhibits, which are now being used for other species, Dallas Zoo for example.

Just a few Zoos in the States have build new exhibits for hippos, San Diego,Toledo,Saint Louis or now San Antonio( does anybody have seen yet this new exhibit at the San Antonio Zoo and can post some pictures ? )

Why the other zoos didn't do that also ? What are the plans for hippos at Fort Worth and L.a ? And why no Us-Zoo is breeding hippos ? Disney has bought all european hippos , which they could get in 1997..
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  #2
Old 23-10-2008

Hippos are being bred in the US, there was a birth not long ago at the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Pensacola, FL. There is a problem of hippos with unknown pedigrees, and the situation is currently being sorted out before any official plans are being made. River Hippos have a good future in the US. Like zebraduiker mentioned San Diego, Toledo, San Antonio, and St Louis have more modern hippo exhibits. Other newer hippo exhibits include:

Disney
Busch Gardens
Adventure Aquarium
Honolulu Zoo
Ellen Trout Zoo (Lufkin, TX)
Rio Grande Zoo (Albuquerque, NM)

The new San Antonio facility was opened this year and the following plan to build new hippo exhibits in the future:

Milwaukee County Zoo - 2009
Memphis Zoo - 2010
Dallas Zoo - 2011
Sedgwick County Zoo
Columbus Zoo - 2012
Woodland Park Zoo
Houston Zoo
Little Rock Zoo
Birmingham Zoo - 2010?
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

I think current holding space is also a problem. Once the space expands with the new exhibits, Im sure breeding and the numbers will grow. From what I hear hippo breeding is so easy, the male just has to look at the female to get her pregnant, lol. As for the new construction, hippos havent really been a priority in large-scale new exhibit construction across the country like apes, big cats, and elephants have.
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  #3
Old 23-10-2008

Are there any large Hippo herds in the US other than just breeding pairs or Trios?
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  #4
Old 23-10-2008

DAK is the only facility with a large pod of hippos. The Leon Zoo in Mexico also a a large herd, but not in the numbers that DAK has.
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  #5
Old 23-10-2008

I found out about a month ago that LA and SD zoo will be trading male hippos, but I don't know when that'll happen.
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  #6
Old 24-10-2008

Regarding the future of hippos in LA, I'm not really sure what will happen. The original plan was to built a new hippo exhibit that was going to be called "Kiboko Cove", but due to the orginal elephant exhibit being too small, the zoo decided to use the hippo space to make the elephant exhibit bigger. Now that we only have one male, I don't even know what will happen.
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  #7
Old 24-10-2008

Quote:
Originally Posted by okapikpr View Post
Hippos are being bred in the US, there was a birth not long ago at the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Pensacola, FL. There is a problem of hippos with unknown pedigrees, and the situation is currently being sorted out before any official plans are being made. River Hippos have a good future in the US. Like zebraduiker mentioned San Diego, Toledo, San Antonio, and St Louis have more modern hippo exhibits. Other newer hippo exhibits include:

Disney
Busch Gardens
Adventure Aquarium
Honolulu Zoo
Ellen Trout Zoo (Lufkin, TX)
Rio Grande Zoo (Albuquerque, NM)

The new San Antonio facility was opened this year and the following plan to build new hippo exhibits in the future:

Milwaukee County Zoo - 2009
Memphis Zoo - 2010
Dallas Zoo - 2011
Sedgwick County Zoo
Columbus Zoo - 2012
Woodland Park Zoo
Houston Zoo
Little Rock Zoo
Birmingham Zoo - 2010?
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

I think current holding space is also a problem. Once the space expands with the new exhibits, Im sure breeding and the numbers will grow. From what I hear hippo breeding is so easy, the male just has to look at the female to get her pregnant, lol. As for the new construction, hippos havent really been a priority in large-scale new exhibit construction across the country like apes, big cats, and elephants have.
Thanx okapikpr,

I suppose the hippos fall in a separate category when it comes to TAG decisions and collection planning?

Since, the new IUCN Red List for mammals came out on 6/10/2008 I suppose we can rearrange collection plans accordingly. Hippos are now classed as Vulnerable down from relatively secure (Least Concern) with 10-20% population declines in Africa and decreasing trends. The total population estimate is yet 125,000 minimum (but that is down from an 1993/4 estimate of 160,000.

Re: LA Zoo. It is rather sad that hippos seem to be squeezed out by the new elephant habitat development (I will discuss that furthr in the LA Elephant redevelopment thread). It seems other zoos are not yet focussing on hippos that much even though they have high profile public viewing/exhibition value (1 of several selection criteria for the collection planning process).l

I personally favour that hippos are assembled into larger herds at selected zoos with sufficient water's edge space replicating its gregarious nature as a species in the wild. That would entail an average zoo holding 1.3 or 1.4 hippos with 3-5 offspring.

Any chance of that happening with the AZA/SSP world before long?
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  #8
Old 24-10-2008

I raised the idea of concentrating herds of hippos into 1.4 at least in larger exhibits while on a work visit to san diego. This from what i heard was just not going to happen unless there was a large rise in the captive population whether it be through import and so on as not many zoo's are willing to give up the hippo. Here in Australiasian region only 4 zoo's have hippos that are part of our region (a private zoo in cairns owns a male and female) The two zoo's breeding the hippos are open range facilities with groups around 1.4. The two others display 1.1 and 1.2. This move to exhibit fewer hippos has shown that hippo's don't effect visitor numbers at all and the move to concentrate herds is a good idea, exhibits just need to be kicked up.
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  #9
Old 24-10-2008

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Originally Posted by zooworker View Post
I raised the idea of concentrating herds of hippos into 1.4 at least in larger exhibits while on a work visit to san diego. This from what i heard was just not going to happen unless there was a large rise in the captive population whether it be through import and so on as not many zoo's are willing to give up the hippo. Here in Australiasian region only 4 zoo's have hippos that are part of our region (a private zoo in cairns owns a male and female) The two zoo's breeding the hippos are open range facilities with groups around 1.4. The two others display 1.1 and 1.2. This move to exhibit fewer hippos has shown that hippo's don't effect visitor numbers at all and the move to concentrate herds is a good idea, exhibits just need to be kicked up.
I realise there is a socio-political element here on the part of individual zoos. However, the TAG - which probably okapikprt or another zoo community individual from the US can testify - decides what species composition the SSP/AZA will be looking at over the next decade. The individual TAG-recommendations are then laid over individual zoos exhibit development and collection plans and that makes for a particular outcome.

Now zoos for that matter are not copy cats and it is no big deal that some zoos will not be able to exhibit hippos if they do realise that 0.1 or 2.1 is not a particularly valid use of exhibit space. I suppose it is very much a fluid thing that will level out over time (in Europe we have this scenario with white rhino in small holdings vs. phase out policy from small holdings - as stipulated by the Rhino TAG - in favour of solitary-pairwise maintained black and Indian rhinos).

okapikpr: what ssp. definitions is the SSP/AZA looking at for common hippo Hippopotamus amphibius?
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  #10
Old 24-10-2008

I know how the program works, i've been a keeper for 15 years. What i was trying to say is that i would think nothing much is going to change really unless a zoo decides to build a hippo facility on the scale of elephant developments that have been going through of late. Every single hippo facility i've seen in the US, which is major zoo's, san diego, national, oregon, saint louis and so on all have exhibits and holding facilites not suited to maintaining larger herds. I know the national zoo is giving up their male hippo, don't know where he's going yet however. Zoo's are unlikely to get out of the current 1.2 rut that they are in just due to the space and facilities required
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  #11
Old 24-10-2008

@Jelle - River Hippos in the US are part of a PMP not an SSP. The Studbook is a mess with plently of unknowns in the pedigree. Maybe when things clear up they could possibly become an SSP. As for the comments refering to TAGs, they really arent regulatory committees. TAGs send out surveys to zoos and the data return is made into a document called a Regional Collection Plan. From this data, the TAG will determine in the RCP the status of a certain species captive population and reccommend any changes that need to be made. An SSP/PMP coordinator will use these reccommendations to make decisions in the population. Now from here these are all reccommendations to the zoos. Zoos will decide what ever they want to, but often they will abide by these rec's for the betterment of the species in captivity. For zoos looking to acquire a certain taxa, they can use the RCP to possibly choose what species they want - maybe joining a successful species program, or helping to increase spaces in a struggling, but possibly very attractive species program.

@zooworker - Hippos may not increase visitor attendance (calves might though), but they can really move visitors to a certain part of the zoo. Im sure you know, put a hippo exhibit (especially with underwater viewing) in the back of the zoo...and you are sure to get plenty of traffic back there. I also agree with you completely that there needs to be an increase in hippo holdings. From the trends that I can noticed in new construction, many (though not all) hippo holders in the US have increased their space from 1.1 to 1.2.1 in many places. But they could do better, especially bigger zoos. DAK does it best with holding 8.9 right now, and Toledo has 2.4 i think. Houston plans to have a similar group to Toledo, but that's it for larger numbers. Personally I think it will be another 20-30 years before we see an increase in hippos holdings above 1.2 per zoo. Unless activists get the hippo bug, or wild populations take bigger hits.

There is currently a push to increase pygmy hippo holdings. This species is maintained as an SSP. This may have a negative impact for River Hippos, not many zoos would be willing to exhibit both species. Pygmies are smaller, require less space and food. And visitors still get to see a hippo. A lot of smaller zoos are going this route.
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  #12
Old 25-10-2008

Does pedigree matter in hippo's? Are there known subspecies? Or are you just mentioning this because of possible inbreeding in the past?
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  #13
Old 25-10-2008

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwer View Post
Does pedigree matter in hippo's? Are there known subspecies? Or are you just mentioning this because of possible inbreeding in the past?
Subspecies is not the issue. There is a lack of records, since many hippos are descendants of privately owned hippos. There may be inbreeding an we just dont know. Only 51% of the pedigree is known for US hippopotamus. (as of 2006)
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  #14
Old 25-10-2008

Quote:
Originally Posted by okapikpr View Post
Subspecies is not the issue. There is a lack of records, since many hippos are descendants of privately owned hippos. There may be inbreeding an we just dont know. Only 51% of the pedigree is known for US hippopotamus. (as of 2006)
If the common hippo is an PMP does it entail that genetics research may be incorporated into the studbook? Paternity and maternity testing to delineate individual breeding lines could then be accomplished using their DNA (it is a costly affair ... though).

In Europe, one of the Central European zoos has invested heavily in researching the genetic lineages in the common hippo. They are quite advanced in this, yet we have still to experience zoos going for large common hippo exhibits (allthough a few good one like Kobenhavn, Berlin Zoo, Hannover and Antwerpen have happened).

Re TAG's: I was fully aware the TAG collection planning is a policy document and participation in these is strictly voluntary. But I always thought that somehow they acted as regulatory body with defining individual spaces for different spaces, and hence the success of coop breeding programmes. So, this is not the case ...

Good to see though that smaller zoos with lesser hippo holding spaces are opting for pygmy hippos - which are incidentally more endangered than common hippos - and that would be fully in line with a policy to have larger zoos invest in commons and those that cannot provide for a common hippo family grouping into the West-African species.

What are the recommendations eminating from the common hippo PMP?
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  #15
Old 25-10-2008

Quote:
If the common hippo is an PMP does it entail that genetics research may be incorporated into the studbook? Paternity and maternity testing to delineate individual breeding lines could then be accomplished using their DNA (it is a costly affair ... though).
There is no money for this. Especially since, river hippos are not a conservation priority.

Quote:
What are the recommendations eminating from the common hippo PMP?
Fixing the studbook. Because of the problems associated with unknown pedigrees, the PMP manager has asked that zoos wishing to breed contact him. I would assume to give the PMP manager a heads up on what the zoos' intend to do.
 


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