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London Zoo welcomes adorable endangered pygmy hippo

Pygmy hippo Amara arrives at London Zoo (London Zoo)
Pygmy hippo Amara arrives at London Zoo (London Zoo)

An adorable pygmy hippo has been welcomed as the latest resident at London Zoo.

Amara, a two-year-old female, was chauffeured 400 miles from Edinburgh Zoo to the capital on Thursday, 9 February.

She has been met with a warm welcome by her 26-year-old partner Thug. The pair were matched with each other through the European Breeding Programme (EEP) for endangered species.

Pygmy hippo Amara trots into London Zoo as part of conservation breeding programme

(London Zoo)
(London Zoo)
(London Zoo)
(London Zoo)
(London Zoo)
(London Zoo)
(London Zoo)
(London Zoo)
(HANDOUT)
(HANDOUT)
(HANDOUT)
(HANDOUT)

Poppy Jewell, a hippo keeper at London Zoo, 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, who weighs 200kg, and 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.

Poppy added: “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 said

“We also hope that seeing her and Thug and learning about this unique species will inspire the next generation of conservationists.”

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.

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 – book tickets at www.londonzoo.org