The Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn, South Africa has announced that Prince Harry, the adorable baby pygmy hippo that became an Internet star after he was born last month, died around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning due to complications from surgery.
According to a press release issued on the ranch's website today:
Prince Harry the pygmy hippo was operated on today to repair an umbilical hernia, which had the potential to cause gut strangulation. Unfortunately at the conclusion of the operation he went into respiratory arrest and ultimately heart failure. Despite repeated attempts to resuscitate him, Harry passed away on the operating table.
Prince Harry's birth shed light on the endangered species of hippo, which live in West Africa and are threatened by the bushmeat trade, according to the South Africa Star. Wildlife experts estimate there are only 3,000 pygmy hippos left in the wild.
But Harry's birth on April 2 also captured the world's attention because the little hippo almost didn't make it: his mother Hilda rejected him and staff members at the Cango Wildlife Ranch had to care for him around the clock in order to ensure his survival.
The little hippo was reportedly doing well earlier this month, and discussions were under way to make him the face of South Africa's tourism campaign, according to NBC News.
For now, the Cango Wildlife Ranch is urging mourners to remember Prince Harry's accomplishments.
"In Harry’s short life, he managed to raise much needed awareness for his species and their plight in the wild, and Cango Wildlife Ranch will continue to fly the flag of awareness for this species in honour of Harry’s life," the ranch said in the press release.
PHOTOS, courtesy of Miller and Maclean/Caters News: