There is a new man in town!
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (CMZ) in Colorado Springs is welcoming more than visitors, as a brand-new, rather large male presence has taken residence.
Biko, a 17-year-old male Nile hippopotamus, arrived at the zoo on Tuesday evening. Currently in quarantine, he will then be placed in the Water’s Edge: Africa habitat with the Nile hippo sisters, Zambezi and Kasa. Bilko comes to Colorado Springs from a zoo in central Florida on a breeding recommendation Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Nile Hippopotamus Species Survival Plan.
Biko is the first male hippo the CMZ has housed in over three decades, since 1989.
Acclimating Biko to his new home, then introducing him to the other hippos will take time; however, the hope is that, eventually, Biko will produce offspring with at least one of the female hippos. The process to introduce the hippos is referred to by the zoo staff as a “howdie”, which allows the animals to get to know each other through a barrier. The female hippos are currently spending a lot of time together, as well as some apart, and are still getting used to their new surroundings.
“With the arrival of Biko, who is smaller than the females, the dynamics could completely change. Only time will tell. We will watch their behavior closely, and let them tell us what the next steps are," said Patty Wallace, senior lead keeper at Water's Edge: Africa. "We always look for signs that the animals are confident during 'howdies,'. If they show us they feel uncomfortable, we help them see that they are in control by giving them the choice to walk away. They are always making the choice to interact with another animal or not. If we see signs that the two animals are comfortable and confident with each other, we move on to introductions in a shared space, usually for small increments of time that increase slowly."
The Nile hippopotamus is a species vulnerable to extinction in the wild, facing threats to their natural habitat and often prey to ivory poachers.
What's your favorite animal to visit at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo? Share your favorite spot in the zoo with us in the comments!