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Male hippopotamus in Japan zoo turns out to be a female after DNA test

By AYIE LICSI Published Apr 24, 2024 5:32 pm

Gen-chan, a hippopotamus in a Japanese zoo that's been thought of to be male, turned out to be a female all along.

The Osaka Tennoji Zoo announced the development on its staff blog website, sharing that they had a DNA analysis done for the hippo.

Gen-chan was born in March 2012 and arrived in Osaka from Mexico in 2017 with all her documents stating that she was a male. According to the zoo, they didn't question the papers as the hippo was a calf at five years old at the time.

As the hippopotamus got older, zookeepers were unable to visually identify Gen-chan's male reproductive organs. She also didn't exhibit typical male hippo behavior like spreading feces to mark territory or making courtship calls to females upon reaching sexual maturity at 10 years old.

They instead requested a DNA analysis from an outside organization and found out on April 16 that Gen-chan was female.

"In light of the results, we recognize the importance of reconfirming the sex of the animal, and we are determined to ensure that this never happens again," the zoo said in the blog.

Even after learning that Gen-chan's real sex, the zoo will still keep her initial name.

"Her petite, lean face had been a topic of conversation among the zookeepers, who have said, 'He's a handsome boy.' Even though we know Gen-chan is a girl, we'll keep taking good care of her to ensure her comfort," a zoo official said, as per The Straits Times.

Hippos are large semi-aquatic mammals with males usually measuring 3.5 meters long, 1.5 meters tall, and weighing up to 3,200 kilograms.