It’s easy to see how much Omo has grown since his first few months with us, but our 18-month-old hippo is doing a lot more than just gaining pounds. He’s hitting training milestones, getting more independent and growing some impressive tusks and teeth.
Just like when he was born, Omo is still playful, curious and energetic. Within the last few months, Omo has become even more independent and explores – and even naps – on his own away from his mom, Zambezi.
Omo is learning foundational voluntary husbandry behaviors: target and open-mouth training. During target training, keepers ask Omo to move to a specific area, which allows them to visually check him and present him with new enrichment activities, among other things. They might ask him to step onto the scale, for example. (He now weighs over 765 pounds!) Open-mouth training is a first step toward allowing keepers and veterinary staff to check and clean his teeth and tusks, which are now easily visible when he opens his mouth!