Hip-hip-hooray! Pygmy hippo Amara trots into London Zoo as part of conservation breeding programme.
Pygmy hippo Amara has moved into her new home at London Zoo, where she has been enthusiastically welcomed by her new hippo-hubby, Thug.
The two-year-old female was chauffeured the 400mile journey from Edinburgh Zoo to the iconic conservation zoo on Thursday 9 February after being matched up with Thug through the European Breeding Programme (EEP) for the Endangered species.
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.”
With only an estimated 2,500 pygmy hippos left in the wild, ZSL - the science-driven conservation charity behind London Zoo – has worked to protect the species, which is particularly threatened by hunting, logging and mining, through its work with local communities and wildlife authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as this vital conservation breeding programme.
Pygmy hippos (Choeropsis liberiensis) are unique and fascinating creatures. Positioned at No.33 on ZSL’s 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 - they represent an important and unique branch of the evolutionary tree, as there is literally no other species like them on earth.
Amara, who weighs 200kg, and 26-year-old Thug, who tips the scales at 280kg, hit it off straight away when they were introduced in the pair’s hippo hot tub, a warm soothing spa for the duo to wallow in as the species does 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.
“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.”
Visitors to London Zoo can say hello to Thug and Amara in the conservation zoo’s Into Africa area this spring, alongside more than 14,000 other animals.