ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Tuesday was a bittersweet day for the BioPark Zoo as it prepared the crate to ship 2-year-old Brynn, a 1,200-pound male hippo, to the San Antonio Zoo to breed and be with family.
“San Antonio is one of the absolute best [zoo facilities] out there, so it’s bittersweet, but we also know that he’s going to be part of a great thing,” Dep. CEO of the ABQ BioPark, Dr. Baird Fleming, said. “He can actually turn around completely in the crate. We check on that. We let him spend time in the crate so he becomes accustomed to it.”
For Brynn’s safety, the zoo is not releasing the time frame of his shipment.
Zoo-goers saw Brynn’s birth in April 2015 and years growing up in Albuquerque.
Now, he’s going to be part of a breeding program called the Species Survival Plan, or SSP.
“We really plan these things out and it’s basically an agreement between institutions where we can say, ‘You know what? For the betterment of the species, this individual should go over here,’” Fleming said.
He added there are more female hippos being born than males, making Brynn a special individual for the SSP. Fleming said the hippo population is considered “vulnerable,” meaning its population is decreasing.
Brynn is following in the footsteps of his sister, Boopie, who left the BioPark in March to be part of the Dallas zoo’s breeding program, paired up with a male from Los Angeles. Also, Brynn’s mother came to the BioPark from the San Antonio Zoo as part of an SSP, so Brynn will get to meet his grandmother in Texas.
Hundreds of the BioPark’s animals have been involved in this program.
“All of our gorillas, all of our hippos, giraffes, all the animals — pretty much all the animals at the BioPark are part of an SSP,” Fleming said.
The zoos collaborate to make sure there’s a healthy gene pool without having to take in animals from the wild.
“Species Survival Plans were something that were created by the AZA and that’s our accrediting organization — that’s the Association for Zoos and Aquariums… It’s a program that is put together that tries to maintain a sustainable captive population.”
It’s not only a bittersweet goodbye for the zoo and spectators. Brynn’s parents, Moe and Karen — the BioPark’s two remaining hippos — already miss him.
“Apparently, they were waiting for him to get out of the house kind of deal because they’re just chilling out in the background there,” he said.