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Pygmy hippos arrive at ZSL London Zoo

The endangered West African species arrive for the Into Africa exhibit next month

Female pygmy hippo Nicky smiles for the camera

Heated pools, landscaped gardens and an entourage of staff have welcomed a pair of endangered pygmy hippos at London Zoo.

The newest arrivals, 17-year-old Thug and his girlfriend Nicky, 19, will join the giraffes, zebras and hunting dogs in the Regent’s Park venue’s Into Africa exhibit from Saturday, April 5.

It follows the exciting news of the birth of three tiger cubs to the zoo’s endangered Sumatran tigers Melati and Jae Jae, six weeks ago.

Pygmy hippos are small hippopotamids native of West Africa and spend most of their days wallowing in ponds, rivers or swamps.

Male pygmy hippo Thug takes a dip in the pool in the enclosure at ZSL London Zoo

This miniature species has a unique way of marking their territory, as they use their tails to scatter their poo everywhere – quickly dirtying their clean pools and bedding areas.

Taking inspiration from the hippos’ potty-habits, and to mark the launch of the new exhibit, London Zoo will be celebrating Poo at the Zoo throughout the Easter holidays, with a packed programme of poo-related events, including hippo talks and storytelling.

Pygmy hippos are under constant threat from poaching and habitat-loss in the wild, where conservationists estimate that less than 3,000 individuals remain.

Very little is known about this rare species  in the wild, and the Zoological Society of London is working in Liberia’s Sapo National Park and Loma Mountains in Sierra Leone to find out more and help protect them.

Working with local communities and government wildlife authorities, ZSL is assessing pygmy hippo populations using camera traps, and carrying out research to learn more about their wild behaviours.

Visit www.zsl.org to book tickets.

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