Hippo bathing beauties
Thursday 17 March 2005
On your next visit to London Zoo a must see are the resident Pygmy hippos, Nicola and Mr Hippo. With their heated showers in the winter and outdoor pool in the summer they truly are in the lap of luxury
Originating from the West Coast of Africa, Pygmy Hippos live a solitary existence amongst the swampy riverine forests, foraging for roots and shoots. In recent years habitat loss and hunting for meat has reduced their numbers and conservation projects have come to the fore.
Pygmy hippos have a unique ability to produce a moisturising antibiotic fluid from glands within their skin, and unlike their much larger relations, are able to spend the majority of their time out of water. Weighing up to 250 kg with webbed feet and standing only one metre tall, these little hippos are a firm favourite with visitors and keepers alike.
Our resident nine year-old male likes nothing better than a midnight dip, and is equally demanding at breakfast time. Pygmy hippos have huge appetites. They can eat up to three kilos of pellet feed a day supplemented with their favourite willow and ash browse.
Their keeper at the London Zoo, Tracey Lee, said, "They're both demanding and fantastically rewarding animals, with their comedy antics such as playing empty beer kegs, they really are such characters."