L.A. Zoo’s Hippopotamus Mara Gives Birth

CONTACT: L.A. Zoo Press

November 3, 2014

Guests Receive A Rare Halloween Treat As They Witness The Unexpected Birth!

The Los Angeles Zoo’s female hippopotamus, Mara, went into labor at 1:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon and gave birth to a healthy calf two and a half hours later. Guests who happened to stop by to view Mara and her companion, Adhama, received the special Halloween treat of witnessing a live hippo birth. This is the first hippopotamus calf the Zoo has had in 26 years.

Mara, 10 years old, arrived at the L.A. Zoo from Topeka Zoo in December 2013 as a companion for our male, Adhama, 3 years old, who came from the San Diego Zoo in June 2013. This was the first time in many years the Zoo had introduced a pair of hippos, and they had an immediate connection.

Since breeding is closely monitored to comply with the Species Survival Program (SSP) and Mara was on birth control, the birth came as a happy surprise but wasn’t completely unexpected. Animal care staff had a hunch a birth was imminent due to Mara’s symptoms such as weight gain, but they had limited testing options to confirm the suspicion. Staff referenced their breeding notes, and guesstimated that a birth could potentially happen in mid-November based on a gestation period of eight months for hippo pregnancies.

Photo Credit: Tad Motoyama


Mara’s labor began in the comfort of her outdoor pool, and it is common for calves in the wild to be born in the water and stay in the water for up to two weeks before emerging. However, in this particular situation, Mara chose to leave her pool and have her baby on dry land. Zoo animal care staff and veterinarians were close by to monitor the situation to ensure the safety of Mara and her calf. Both mother and baby are doing well and had the weekend to bond. Zoo animal care staff hopes to determine the sex of the baby when they can get a close enough look at the calf or when they are able to separate the baby and mother for the calf’s first check-up. Mother, father, and baby can all be seen on exhibit daily.


About the Los Angeles Zoo
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $19 for adults and $14 for children ages 2 to 12. The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo Web site at www.lazoo.org.