Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Matilda the Hippo is turning two!


Matilda chases the sun.

Matilda, the Nile Hippo baby of the ABQ Biopark in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will celebrate her second birthday on July 19, 2023. 

Matilda and her glowing sun.

Matilda is the third offspring of parents Karen and Moe at the Biopark. 

Moe, Matilda and Karen at snack time.

Karen and Moe's first baby was a little girl named Boopie, now going by the name of Biopelo, who is in Dallas now and is mother of a little hippo girl named Adanna born in May of 2019, and another born October 30 2022, named Kalo.

Their second baby, born in 2015, was named Brynn, until he moved to San Antonio Zoo to be with Karen's mother Uma, who is his grandmother, and now he goes by Timothy. This young hippo is well known for carrying a torch for the famous little hippo girl in Cincinnati, Fiona, sending her cute facebook messages and sometimes even gifts, like fruit baskets.

Karen's late father Tumbo (Biopelo, Matilda and Timothy's grandfather) was featured on the cover of National Geographic in 2016 as the hippo photographed at San Antonio Zoo by Joel Santore for his well known Photo Ark.  Tumbo was 41 when he was photographed. 

I visited Matilda, Karen and Moe at the end of June in 2022, at the ABQ Biopark, and found her playing with her big green ball. She loved to roll it around, push it through the water, and try to bite it. Her mom Karen played with the ball too. 

Matilda and her mum Karen in 2022

I had the chance to catch up with the ABQ hippo family in May of this year, and found Matilda much grown, but still loving to play with balls.

                   Matilda never gets tired of playing with her ball.

There is no underwater viewing in the hippo area, but the hippos have a large pool with several beaches, and a rustic  bridge to swim and hide under.

                        The view from the bridge. This is where Matilda lives.

Karen and Matilda play with the ball under the bridge in May of 2023.                                        The green ball is still around.

Moe mostly just chills out in the water, while Matilda splashes around with her big yellow ball, and Karen likes to join in with her daughter at times.

But Moe wakes up and joins the fun when it is snack time.

Look what I just ate, says Matilda.

                  Mama Karen gets a mouthful, and Matilda waits her turn. 
                        Papa Moe, on the left, is always ready for another bite.

Snack time is at 2 p.m. every day, and the three hippos line up for a good dose of fruits and vegetables, with Moe on the left, Karen on the right, and Matilda in between, making sure she gets her share.

                                                       Matilda hoping for more.

Moe keeps his mouth open most of the time, hoping for the most treats. His cavernous mouth is a pretty easy target to throw the veggies into.

                            Matilda is in the middle, best spot.

You can get very close to the hippos if you gather along the fence, but you also get a great view of the feeding from the bridge.

                                         There is plenty for Matilda too.

                  Feeding Matilda. The keepers make sure she is not left out.

          Last of the lettuce. The keeper dumps the rest over the hippo family. 

                     Matilda wearing her lunch, after the lettuce dump.

And then it is time to play with the ball again. Matilda does not get the ball every day.  

                                        Matilda is always mouthing the ball.

Matilda likes to fit the ball into her mouth, often pressing it up against the bridge foundation or rocks. It isn't going to fit but it is still fun to try.

                                                                     Open wide. 

Matilda was not planned. Karen's birth control failed, just as with Bibi in Cincinnati, who is now mother of one year old Fritz, as well as the famous Fiona. The keepers say that there are no plans for Matilda to move. 

                             Karen joins her daughter in playing ball. 

                                      Matilda making some funny faces.

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