St. Nicholas/Volume 40/Number 1/Nature and Science/Pygmy Hippopotamus

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The Pygmy Hippopotamus

By permission of the New York Zoölogical Society.

The New York Zoölogical Park has recently obtained a pair of the rare and strange pygmy hippopotamuses (Chæropsis liberiensis) recently obtained in Africa. Director Hornaday thus describes them:

“This adult male is thirty inches high at the shoulders, seventy inches in-length from end of nose to base of tail, and the tail itself is twelve inches long. The weight of this animal is four hundred and nineteen pounds. All these figures are offered subject to correction.

“The female is believed to be only two years old. It stands eighteen inches high at the shoulders, and weighs one hundred and seventy-six pounds.

“The pygmy hippo is characterized first of all by its midget size, which, in the adult animal, is about equal to that of a twelve-months-old baby

By permission of the New York Zoölogical Society.
A Pygmy Elephant.

hippo of the large species. Its skull is more convex, or rounded, on its upper surface, than that of H. amphibius; its legs are longer and more slender in proportion, and its eyes do not “pop” out of its head, like those of the giant species. Another striking character is the long tail, which, in proportion, is about twice as long as that of its only living relative, H. amphibius.

“The face of the pygmy is relatively smaller than that of the large species, which brings the eyes nearer to the median line of the skull. The lower jaw of the pygmy bears only two incisor teeth, while the large species has four; and while the eyeballs of C. liberiensis are large, they are proportionally less elevated than those of the large hippo. As the latter swims nearly submerged, the eyes seem to float on the surface of the water like two shiny glass marbles.”

Pygmy elephants were discovered in 1905. The specimen at the New York Zoological Park is about fourteen years of age.