Gloria! A Christmas arrival at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo

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A new endangered pygmy hippo has joined the collection at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. The new arrival, named Gloria, will join resident male Otto with the hope that the two will breed to help bolster populations of this increasingly threatened species. Gloria arrived from Marwell Zoo and, as a welcome gift, keepers will be treating her to some of her favourite food. (Picture: Edinburgh Zoo)

Karen Stiven, Senior Hoofstock Keeper at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: “We are very glad to have Gloria here; she seems to have settled in well and is slowly getting acquainted with Otto, our male. Gloria has been paired with Otto in the hope that they will produce some young, as this species is categorised as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is part of the European Endangered Species Programme whose efforts help secure these iconic species for future generations.

“As part of the overarching breeding programme, Ellen, our older pygmy hippo, left the collection recently to go to retire in Spain, so it is nice to see that Otto has a new female to bond with.”

Pygmy hippos are facing serious threats in the wild, with a mere 2,000 estimated to remain worldwide. Populations are declining rapidly due to habitat destruction caused by logging, farming and human settlement, as well as increased hunting for bushmeat. A subspecies existed in Nigeria, but this is now believed to be extinct as there have been no reported sightings for decades.

Pygmy hippos are native to West Africa, with the largest population residing in Liberia. They are the smaller cousin of the hippopotamuses found in West Africa. Adult pygmy hippos reach 70-80 cm in height and are believed to have diverged from the common hippo over ten million years ago. Breeding programmes in captivity have been very successful and it is hippos in zoos that have provided the majority of valuable research into this species.

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