The Animal Facts Editorial Team
February 22, 2023 1:00 am
London Zoo, London, The United Kingdom
London’s Conservation zoo, ZSL London Zoo have welcomed the arrival of a new pygmy hippo, Amara, with keepers hoping she will kickstart the breeding project for this species at the zoo.
Pygmy hippo keeper Poppy Jewell said: “Amara was really chilled when she arrived – she happily trotted straight out of her cosy travel crate and into her new home where she enjoyed a tasty snack of kale and cabbage before settling down for a snooze.”
Amara made the move from Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo where she was born in 2021 to the heart of the capital arriving on February 9th 2022. Her transfer to ZSL London Zoo has been recommended by the European Breeding Programme (EEP) for the Endangered species.
ZSL London Zoo is home to an eligible bachelor known as Thug. The 26 year old gentleman was happy to welcome Amara to his hippo hot tub, a soothing spa where the duo can wallow together as they would in the wild.
“Unsurprisingly, Thug – whose name is a purposefully ironic one as he is actually a gentle giant – was really excited about having a new lady in his hippo hot tub, while Amara was cool, calm and collected; she’s definitely going to have the upper hoof in the relationship. All the signs we’ve seen so far has been really encouraging and in a few years’ time, when Amara comes of age, we have our fingers crossed we’ll hear the trot-trot of tiny pygmy hippos.”
Pygmy hippo numbers have fallen to just 2500 in the wild where they are threatened by habitat loss, hunting and mining. Along with their conservation efforts in London, ZSL are working on the ground in Sierra Leone and Liberia to save this species.
The pygmy hippo is a unique and threatened species which has led to ZSL positioning them at no.33 on their EDGE of Existence (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) mammals list – which ranks threatened species according to their evolutionary distinctiveness to prioritise them for conservation action.
“Adding to the population of this Endangered species is all part of our core focus of protecting wildlife at London Zoo,” Poppy added. “We also hope that seeing her and Thug and learning about this unique species will inspire the next generation of conservationists.”
You might think the pygmy hippo is just a mini version of the larger common hippo but this species is surprisingly unique. Find out how in our fact file.
When viewing a pygmy hippo you may notice a pink fluid looking like sweat covering their body. Giving the name, blood sweat, this liquid is not blood. Instead it acts like sunscreen does for humans protecting the sensitive skin of the pygmy hippo as they make their way through the forest.
Image: © ZSL London Zoo
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