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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From the News: L.A. Zoo's new hippo calf surprises staff; mother was on birth control

One of the biggest challenges zoos face is the establishment of sustainable captive populations.  A lot of planning and care go into these breeding programs.  Too little reproduction results in a loss of genetic diversity, a decreasing population size, and eventually loss of the populations.  Too much reproduction and you are faced with a surplus of animals you need to take care of, which can hamper your other breeding programs and sap your resources (it is this problem that led to the euthanasia debacle in Europe earlier this year).

To help prevent this from happening, there has been tremendous work done in the field of zoo animal contraceptives.  It's a relatively new science, however, and sometimes it works too well... or, as in this case, not well enough...

Even if she was unintended, I hope that LA is thrilled with their new baby (relatively few zoos are working with hippos these days) and that all goes well with their little (well, big, actually) oopsie...

Baby hippo is a big surprise at the L.A. Zoo
The hippo calf nuzzles with its mother, Mara, at a media event at the L.A. Zoo on Tuesday. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

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