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Meet Jahari, the Pittsburgh Zoo's New Pygmy Hippo

The three-year-old pygmy hippopotamus is the star of the new "Jungle Odyssey" exhibit.

Video by Sean Collier. Thumbnail photo by Mary Beth Kulin.

With all due respect to a giant anteater, several peaceful capybaras and more animals, the star of the newest exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is a pygmy hippopotamus.

Jahari, a three-year-old pygmy hippo — seen here enjoying a morning stroll around his habitat — is set to be joined by a female hippo in 2018. For now, he can be found swimming and climbing in the zoo’s new “Jungle Odyssey” area.

Found only in a few forests of west Africa, pygmy hippos are considerably more rare than their larger cousins. The shy, mostly nocturnal animals remain elusive to researchers studying their habits in the wild. Despite their relatively limited numbers — the pygmy hippopotamus is an endangered species, with estimates of 2,000-3,000 in the wild — the mammal has a presidential legacy: In 1927, a pygmy hippo was given to President Calvin Coolidge as a gift. (Billy lived at the National Zoo, not in the White House.)

Visitors to the Pittsburgh Zoo can find Jahari and the rest of the Jungle Odyssey family beyond the Jambo Grill and the Islands exhibit. Take note of the two tall towers on either side of Jahari’s habitat; later this year, the Jungle Odyssey area will also be home to a new zipline.

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