COLORADO SPRINGS — The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s (CMZoo) 9-month-old hippo is almost 500 pounds and keeps growing along with his big personality.

Omo was born July 21, 2021, to 28-year-old first time mother Zambezi and 18-year-old father Biko. He was the first hippo born at CMZoo in 32 years.

Baby Omo has recently learned to slurp up food mixed in with fresh water just like his dad who loves his own “slurpies.” His favorite foods include lettuce and bananas which are used to help Omo build relationships with his keepers, according to CMZoo. Not only is he learning how to bond with keepers, he is also learning to communicate with other hippos as he makes vocalizations to adult hippos.

CMZoo stated that Omo and his mom are just about the same size as the life sized bronze statues in Water’s Edge: Africa’s Hippo Plaza at the zoo. Omo’s mom, weighs roughly 3,200 pounds. She can be seen swimming in the pool with Omo while he plays with his favorite toys.

According to CMZoo, only 30 organizations accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in North America, including Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, house hippos. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, categorizes Nile hippopotamuses as a species vulnerable to extinction in the wild.

IUCN estimates that 125,000 to 150,000 hippos will remain in their native habitats. Primary threats to these species are habitat loss and illegal and unregulated hunting. Hippos are hunted for their meat and ivory canine teeth.

More updates on baby Omo can be found on the CMZoo’s webpage.