Taking her first baby steps: Adorable young pygmy hippo explores her new world - with a little help from mum.

Yahoo! News UK
The baby pygmy hippo, Zola, is nudged along by its mother (Caters)

An adorable baby hippo has tentatively begun to explore the world for the first time.

With guidance from its mother, the cute creature took a dip in the pool and wandered around its enclosure.

The calf, called Zola, is a pygmy hippo - an endangered species with only a few thousand left in the African wild.

Unlike common hippos, which can weigh up to a mammoth 3,629kg, an adult pygmy is 13 times smaller and will grow to three feet.

A calf is born at approximately 4.5kg, and is small enough to fit in a bag or keep in a house.

The new arrival at Lowry Park Zoo in Florida has excited its staff.

The Zoo held an online vote to name the calf, choosing between Zawadi, meaning 'gift', Zola, meaning 'to love', and Zuri, meaning 'beautiful'.

Each name begins with the letter Z in honour of the calf's mother, Zsa-Zsa.

Dr Larry Killmar, Vice President of Animal Science and Conservation, said: "The birth of this rare and endangered nocturnal forest species marks only the 55th individual in the managed population within North American, and underlines the importance of our conservation efforts with this species.

"With fewer than 3,000 pygmy hippos in the wild, each birth is vital if we have any hope of saving this truly unique species."

The pygmy hippopotamus is native to West Africa, specifically Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where it inhabits fresh water and tropical rainforest.

As solitary creatures, they can often be found wallowing alone by swamps, riverbanks and muddy areas, feeding on waterside vegetation at night.