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Baby hippo makes a splash at Antwerp zoo by becoming the youngest of his kind in Europe



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 8:23 AM on 10th June 2010



With a face this cute, it’s hard to believe that hippos are one often considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, and one of the most aggressive creatures in the world.


But considering this four-week-old baby hippopotamus has yet to grow his three-foot teeth, we’re guessing he’s not going to attack any time soon.


The adorable new-born was snapped taking his first swim with his mother Imani in their enclosure at Antwerp zoo in Belgium.


The little male is now the youngest of his kind in Europe but is still waiting to be named by zoo-keepers.


article-0-09F5B5B5000005DC-974_634x408.jpg Say 'awww'... this is the adorable moment a baby hippo opens the little mouth that will one day be full of a huge set of gnashers


He is now the 165th hippo in captivity in Europe, helping to ensure the survival of the 125,000 of his kind in the wild.


His mother took everyone at the zoo by surprise after she became pregnant at just three-years-old, which is slightly younger than most hippos in captivity.


Xavier Beghin, from Antwerp Zoo, said: ‘The zoo is very proud of Imani and despite hippos not usually giving birth till five or six-years-old, she has handled it very well.


‘In the wild of course hippos will mate at this age but it is unusual in captivity because animals do not mature as fast.

‘But Imani has surprised us all and she is an excellent mother, she has turned from a young hippo to a mother very fast.’


article-0-09F56068000005DC-39_634x418.jpg Mother Imani is very protective of her new baby son and the pair have been taken away from the rest of the zoo's hippos for precaution


Xavier also said that Imani and her baby have been separated from the rest of the hippos as a precaution because of the animals huge size.


‘Hippos are big animals and the baby could be at risk because it is so small. But Imani is very protective of her new son, she lets us know who is boss and you can’t argue with one tonne of angry hippo.’


Adult male hippos weigh up to 1.5 tonnes and have been known to reach speeds of up to 25mph.


Mature hippos also have huge mouths - around four foot across - armed with pair of huge incisors in each jaw which can grow up to one metre long.

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