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San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomes male hippo calf

SAN DIEGO -- A river hippopotamus born three weeks ago at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a male, park officials said Thursday.

The unnamed calf is the 12th born to mother Funani. Keepers said the calf, born Sept. 22, seems more adventurous and precocious than his older siblings.

"It's so great to have the opportunity to watch Funani raise another calf," said Jennifer Chapman, senior keeper.

"This boy is fearless, and we're really excited to see him grow into his big personality," Chapman said. "The not-so-little male calf never misses a meal and has been seen nursing several times a day."

Keepers estimate the youngster now weighs between 80 and 100 pounds. He and his mother are on exhibit Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends -- though schedules are subject to change.

The river hippopotamus is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. According to the Safari Park, numbers are rapidly decreasing due to poaching for their tusk-like teeth, which are substitutes for banned elephant ivory.