2019 “VISITING WITH ANIMALS” Calendar – March Story


03 Penelope March

What a beautiful smile!



Penelope and Kindia 12

Kindia and Penny

For the second month in a row, my featured animal is one who resides in the African Rainforest Pavilion at the Toronto Zoo. There will be one more upcoming in the summer months, so it’s no surprise at all that this year’s calendar proved to be very popular among the Keepers of that area! The pavilion itself was pretty well-attended last summer and fall with two irresistibly cute babies to visit and become smitten with. For reasons known only to your humble narrator, I am presenting these babies in the reverse order of their births. Actually, let me check something… well, it turns out I don’t know why I put them in this order, either. Just to keep things interesting, I guess?



Kindia 01 calendar

Sassy lassie

Mom Kindia arrived in June of 2016 from Zoo de La Flêche in France and immediately impressed her visitors with her precociousness and inquisitiveness. She used to delight me by swimming out from under the bridge and then, just when you expected to see her come into the little pond area and climb out of the water, she would take a left turn and walk to just beneath the windows of the pedestrian path, where she would gaze up at the silly humans until they finally noticed where she had popped up.



That looked a little something like this:







A very pregnant Kindia in 2017

Kindia had been pregnant the previous year as well. She gave birth to a calf in November, but it only survived one day. There are many theories I have heard floated around about what happened, but I do know that Kindia looked a lot bigger to me in her second pregnancy than her first. I believe she began to ignore her first baby pretty quickly, so my mindset is that perhaps it simply wasn’t robust enough to survive any longer. Whatever the reason, the birth had been very eagerly anticipated by all of the pygmy hippo Keepers and the sudden loss was quite devastating. Eventually Kindia and her mate, Harvey – who really seem to enjoy each other’s company – were put back together for breeding and this time around the pregnancy was much more successful. On August 12th, 2018, Penelope was born – and has stolen everyone’s heart ever since.



Pygmy hippos 40

Harvey catching a glimpse of his girls

Harvey was a robust young man of 23 – nearly twice Kindia’s age – when Penelope was born. It’s pretty cute in general when he is on one side of the split exhibit fence and Kindia is on the other, and they approach each other through the “Howdy” door which sometimes has just a screen in it for ease of access. But on the day I took the photo at right, it was heart-meltingly adorable when Harvey heard the two girls on their side of the fence and wandered over to catch a glimpse of them between the posts. For their part, Kindia and Penelope obligingly stood still in an area where they could be seen by the proud papa, and those of us in attendance had ridiculously huge, crooked grins on our faces for a good long time after we witnessed the meet-up.



Penelope has grown considerably in the six-plus months she’s been on this planet, but she’s still really just a little nugget, all-in-all. Here’s a video from the Zoo’s YouTube channel of her and her mom when she was just 11 days old:


[Ed. note: it’s worth checking out all of the Zoo’s videos on that channel when you have the chance]

And here are – incredibly – the most recent shots I have taken of them, which are from a couple of months ago:


Kindia and Penelope 1Kindia and Penelope 2Penelope 1


If you get a chance to visit the Zoo this winter, try to get up and see this little scamp while she is still so very wee. I mean, she’ll never exactly be huge (they are, after all, “pygmy” hippos), but nevertheless she’s absolutely adorable right now and you should try not to miss her!

I’ll leave you with a selection of other shots of Penny and her mom, and thank you for checking out this month’s post! Next month: the second in a series of baby photos that stretches over five straight months – something I only just now noticed. I doubt any of you will be disappointed, though. See you in the spring!