The herd of seven hippos in the Thiruvananthapuram zoo has a new member as 18-year-old Rukmini gave birth to a healthy-looking calf on Thursday evening. Toto, as the calf is being tentatively called, is Rukmini’s seventh offspring.
Zoo veterinarian Jacob Alexander said they were yet to ascertain the sex of the newborn. Observing from outside the enclosure, zoo-keepers found the calf suckling two hours after it was born.
The mother was already coaxing the newborn to balance its barrel-like body on its feet and the vet said that the intrepid calf, barely a day old, was venturing into the pond mostly on its own.
The zoo authorities had moved the other members of the herd to another enclosure after last year’s infanticide serving as a harsh example of what the generally docile animals can become in a confined environment. Then, the calf of a hippo named Bindu was trampled to death by male hippos. The newborn excluded, there are five females and two males in the zoo. The other inhabitants will be let back into the comfort of their usual home, one at a time, after the calf gains adequate strength.