PARIS – Aldo looks, eats and lazes like a hippopotamus — but he's only about as big as a human baby, at 21 inches.
The pygmy hippo, born this month at the Paris Zoo, is one of only a few dozen in Europe, bred in a special program to boost the rare species.
There are no more than 3,000 around the world, mostly concentrated in west African countries such as Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau or Liberia, said Juliane Villenain, a biologist at the zoo in the Bois de Vincennes, a park on Paris' eastern edge.
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According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, pygmy hippos have already disappeared from Nigeria.
Pygmy hippopotamuses are, unlike their bigger brethren, lonely animals, except during reproduction season.
The female takes care of the newborn by herself, as little Aldo's mother Anais did, Villenain said.
His older brothers, now 7 and 6 years old, live in Spain and Britain.
Aldo likes alfalfa, carrots, apples and all sorts of vegetables. When captive, pygmy hippos also enjoy grainy feed specially made for them.
The fact that Aldo is a male is good news to the European breeding program. Since the project started in the early 90s, there have been 46 males born and 66 females. Aldo is the 47th male of the species.
Aldo, born June 5, was kept away from the public eye immediately after his birth. He will be on view to visitors starting Wednesday afternoon.