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Australasian Hippo Population

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Zoofan15, 8 Feb 2021.

  1. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Australasian Hippo Population

    As shown below, the regional population of both species has dwindled with only two facilities now holding Common hippopotamus; and four holding Pygmy hippopotamus. Imports are desperately needed as both populations are already quite inbred. Monarto Safari Park has expressed an interest in holding Common hippopotamus in the near future.

    Common Hippopotamus

    Taronga Western Plains Zoo:


    1.0 Mana (31/03/1996) Ollie x Suzie
    0.1 Nile (15/05/1999) Ollie x Suzie
    0.1 Cuddles (00/09/2002) Fonzie x Solucky
    0.1 Kibibi (11/09/2014) Mana x Cuddles
    0.1 Kendi (25/05/2017) Mana x Cuddles
    1.0 Kani (15/04/2020) Mana x Cuddles

    Werribee Open Range Zoo:


    0.1 Primrose (01/12/1990) Harold x Unknown
    0.1 Brindabella (09/12/1990) Harold x Unknown
    0.1 Tulip (01/01/2003) Harold x Primrose
    0.1 Lotus (28/03/2008) Harold x Primrose
    0.1 Pansy (18/11/2013) Harold x Brindabella

    Total regional population: 2.9


    Pygmy Hippopotamus

    Taronga Zoo:


    1.0 Fergus (06/08/2009) Frank x Fluffy
    0.1 Kambiri (26/06/2010) Timmy x Petre

    Melbourne Zoo:

    1.0 Felix (17/11/2006) Frank x Fluffy

    Adelaide Zoo:

    1.0 Obi (25/05/2015) Felix x Petre

    Darling Downs Zoo:

    0.1 Kamina (21/02/2017) Fergus x Kambiri

    Total regional population: 3.2


    Inbreeding has long been rife amongst Common hippopotamus in the region. Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s current breeding female (Cuddles) is the product of a half brother/half sister mating (Fonzie and Solucky). They in turn were the product of two respective father/daughter matings (Kabete and Faith; Kabete and Snorkle). Since Faith’s mother (Bonnie) was born at Taronga Zoo, it’s likely they’re related to the other hippos in the region (who descend from Taronga bred stock). Harold (born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in 1978) sired two female calves at Werribee Open Range Zoo in late 1990; and subsequently bred with both of them before his death to produce Werribee’s newest generation.

    The Pygmy hippopotamus population descends from a smaller number of founders - including Pi and Carolyn. Their calves included Janice (mother of Petre; grandmother of Kambiri) and Frank (father of Felix and Fergus).
     
  2. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    I believe that Altina had mentioned on their Facebook/Website they were interested in river Hippos unless there has been a change in plans!
     
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  3. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    With river and pygmy hippo being in good supply in Australasia (I mean specifically eastern and south-east Asia), it is perplexing to see that no substantial imports have taken place till date.

    The open range concept lends itself to both the river and pygmy hippos. Further, I would love to see a central Africa open range for okapi, bongo to compliment each. It could even be that both river and pygmy hippo have water complex exhibits.
     
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  4. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    They cant not import them yet. But they have been exported in resent years :D
    The importing from S/E Asia more be too complex in requirements!
     
  5. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    Moving hippos is dangerous in itself. The requirements is one thing that is making it complicated to get them into Australia as well. New Pygmy Hippo and Common Hippo genetics would be incredibly valuable if they were to be imported! In the case of Pygmy Hippo; they will be needed in the future, or the choice will have to be made whether to inbred or let them die out.
     
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  6. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    I thought they were working on the IRA for future Hippo importation?.
    Monarto zoo has them in their plans!
    We then need a group of Zoochaters to head to Columbia to hog tie a few from the local rivers :D
     
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  7. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    They are (last I heard), it’s just an insanely slow process. That’s probably why they’re holding off breeding from Kamina at DDZ with one of the unpaired males in the region.

    Tbh, I think Monarto will form a hippopotamus herd with one of Werribee’s female pods and a male from Dubbo.
     
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  8. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    Its possible, But the region really needs new bloodlines I hope they do import in this case that least!
     
  9. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    As always, the more imports the better; but being a long lived species (that can breed into their late thirties), they wouldn’t even need a huge number of imports to sustain the regional population for a number of decades. Ideally, a group import would take place, with hippos then dispersed between several zoos. I know many would like to see them return to Auckland Zoo!
     
  10. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    With no Common hippopotamus imports on the horizon, I wonder if it would be prudent to breed Kibibi (2014) with her sire, Mana (1996) as she approaches prime reproductive age. The only other male in the region is her brother, Kani (2020); which makes her sire the best match (only 50% of the same genes).

    Assuming no imports take place, another option is to derive a male calf from pairing Kani (2020) with one of the female pods from Werribee (my prediction for the founders of Monarto’s pod); but this would offer no advantage in terms of genetics and delay breeding when you factor in Kani’s time to reach maturity (and the time taken for a male calf of his to be successfully raised to maturity).

    By necessity, the first reproduction of Werribee’s younger females has been delayed significantly (the eldest female is heading for 20); but this is far from ideal.
     
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  11. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    It would be ideal for new imports to arrive, but since this isn’t the case I think Kani will be sent to Werribee and mother and daughter, Brindabella and Pansy will be sent to Monarto Safari Park. This will allow Kani to breed with Tulip (2003) and Lotus (2008). Any future male calves from either TWPZ or WORZ could be sent to breed with Pansy at Monarto in the future.

    Mana should be breed with both Cuddles and Kibibi, but maybe Kendi (once she gets older), could head to Monarto to found the pod there as well.
     
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  12. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    @Zoofan15 I am not going to say "if only"someone had bought those Mareeba Hippos ;)
     
  13. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    As far as I’m aware, Brindabella is of higher genetic value to Primrose (through her dam); so there may be a desire to breed from her while they still have a few years to do. This could easily be done at Werribee (which even with the expansion will have a smaller holding capacity than Monarto), with Pansy likely able to rejoin Brindabella and her sibling after a few months without issue.

    Alternatively, Brindabella and Pansy could breed at the same (and be seperated along with their newborns); transfer the bull to Monarto; and then attempt to reintegrate the two mother daughter pairs when the calves are older (with the understanding they may be unable to do so, but have the capacity to house two pods).
    We all share your frustration on that one! That bull (full sibling to Cuddles) sure would have come in handy for pairing with one of the Werribee females.
     
  14. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    Your not wrong there!!!! :D
     
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  15. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    I remain exasperated this common hippo (or the pygmy hippo) issue of low genetic diversity in both endangered / threatened taxa categories has not been fixed yet. There really is an abundance of hippos and pygmy hippo available in Asian mainland and island archipelago to choose from .... Bring in 3-6 common hippo and 2-4 pygmy hippo and the program could be home and dry for both. What is holding up this endeavour for the last decade now?
     
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  16. kiwimuzz

    kiwimuzz Well-Known Member

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    Sorry Zorro, sadly someone did buy those Mareeba hippos and that is how the ended up in Indonesia in 2013!
    IMHO the ZAA probably thought, at the time of Shamabala closing, that they were going to have to re-house all the animals in Australia, and that they would be getting the animals for free. I think everyone was surprised when they were sold to an international buyer for cash.
    The problem I have with the current situation of Hippos in Australia is that little progress has been made since 2013. We are talking about major conservation organisations that are multi million dollar businesses, that have the backing, funding and support of State governments. Organisations that have the space to house more hippos, the technical staff and necessary expertise to house more hippos, the scientific understanding of genetics and captive breeding programs and yet no progress has been made on importing new hippos...
     
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  17. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Taronga Western Plains Zoo are really the only facility that have shown any initiative in recent decades - and even then did the bare minimum (acquiring one of the three available hippos).

    Werribee happily bred their two females hippos to their sire (rather than acquire an unrelated bull) - breeding just enough to sustain a population of this species for the next few decades.

    Auckland Zoo made the mistake of capping their herd at 1.2 young/middle aged hippos by castrating the male. This backfired when the bull died at the relatively young age of 28.

    The overwhelming attitude seems to be. Do we have hippos here and now? Yes. Are these hippos likely to be alive in 10-20 years? If yes, then we’re all good. Zoos need to see the wider picture i.e. what the region needs and what they will need 20-30 years down the line.
     
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  18. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    I knew long ago that they were sold to Indonesia and yes I agree with you completely that our major Hippo holders must of assumed they would get them given for free,LOL :rolleyes:. I feel there was a certain amount of arrogance on this side of the fence and also a certain amount of lack of real interest. I believe that Seaworld got one of the River Hippo females which ended up at the TWPZ and has bred a number of times which may of ended up saving this species within our region,also a Pygmy Hippo going to TZ. I view this as a major set back for both River Hippos and the Pygmy Hippo in our region. Our major zoos should of had this wrapped up and delivered ;). Now we wait and hope the IRA for Hippos will happen before to many more of the remaining animals get to old for breeding or pass on to that big river in the sky, but I am quite sure our bureaucrats and the ZAA are doing all they can :)
     
    Last edited: 5 Mar 2021
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  19. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    They only acquired the female Hippo after Seaworld bought it and changed their plans about keeping them so no credit or kudos really goes to TWPZ other than it ended up there.
     
    Last edited: 5 Mar 2021
  20. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    That’s interesting that Sea World planned to house just a single hippo. They likely chose Cuddles (2002) solely on the basis of her being younger than her mother, Solucky (1987). Genetically speaking, Solucky would have been more valuable (and still young enough to contribute calves to the population).

    A contributing factor to the relecutance or zoos to show initiative in breeding can at least partly be attributed to the difficulty in placing offspring. Auckland Zoo first allowed their herd to self manage their population increase by not separating newborn calves from the herd (many calves were killed by the adults); and then from the early 90’s, implemented contraception of the females and later castration of the bull.

    It’d be good to know what facilities are open to acquiring hippos e.g Altina was mentioned by someone a while back; and they’d be a perfect fit for Orana.
     
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