Meet Katy: The Pygmy Hippo

Meet Katy, the Pygmy HippoIt’s hard to think that anything with “hippo” in its name could be considered anywhere near pygmy, especially when considering that the average African hippopotamus can weigh anywhere from 2,900 lbs to 4,000 lbs and stands about 5 ft tall on all four, stumpy, legs.

Yet, pygmy hippopotamuses, the Mini Cooper versions of their more hulking and corpulent Hummer H1 cousins somehow manage it. The pygmy hippo on average weighs only 400-600 lbs., that’s a fifteenth the size of its super-sized cousin and stands only on average a little more than 2ft.

There’s more separating these two hippo cousins than size. Mainly, how much time they spend in the water.

Both species are considered semi-aquatic, meaning they tend to spend as much time on dry land grazing as they do in water cooling off and lounging about; however, pygmy hippos, like Katy, who has been with the Carson & Barnes family for over 25-years, tend to spend more of their time on land foraging than they do in the water.

Pygmy hippo

This full-grown pygmy hippo still looks small next to the giant tortoise.

Another interesting fact about pygmy hippos: they are much rarer than their larger cousins. Heck, they weren’t even discovered until the mid-19th century.

While regular hippopotamuses can be found almost anywhere in large and expansive territories and pods (a group of hippos) in the rivers and lakes of Central and Southern Africa, the pygmy hippo can only be found in isolated, thickly forested, pockets in parts of West Africa, such as the Ivory Coast.

Even more interesting than that fact is, each of these species can secrete their own home-made sunscreen. The substance tends to be a pink or reddish color when it rises to the surface and is the source of the legend that hippos “sweat blood.” The secretion that oozes from the hippos pores actually keeps their very sensitive skin protected from sunburn while roaming around for food.

Katy, who spends most of her afternoons while on tour lounging around and grubbing in the Carson and Barnes menagerie, has been a favorite for visitors to the circus for years. So, come by before showtime and introduce yourself to Katy and all of her friends at the Carson & Barnes Petting Zoo. The midway open an hour before showtime.