Pygmy hippos spend a large part of their lives submerged in water, either in a swamp or a river. Hence, their exhibit is designed more like a giant aquarium with two viewing galleries. From the seated comfort of the spacious lower level gallery, you can see these hippos tiptoeing on the riverbed like ballerinas en pointe! Although the hippos spend a lot of time in the water, they can’t swim and their bodies are too dense to stay afloat. Look closely and you’ll notice they close their ears and nostrils when submerged in the water. Unlike the common hippo, whose eyes are at the top of their heads, the eyes of the pygmy hippo are on the sides of their heads. Their toes are also not webbed like their larger cousins.
On hot days, you might want to lean in for a closer look at the skin of the animal. With no sweat glands, these miniature hippos survive the heat by staying cool in the water in the day and their skin secretes mucus that acts as a natural sun block.
Pygmy hippos are herbivores with exceptionally large jaws. They eat grass, roots, fruits and shoots in the wild. See how wide hungry hippos can stretch their mouths during their token feeding session at 2.30pm daily.