Written by
1 July 2014

Adhela or 'Dil' arrived at London Zoo 160 years ago on 22 July 1854.

She was the first living female hippopotamus in Europe since Roman times. The Viceroy of Egypt presented Adhela to London Zoo as a mate for Obaysch. Obaysch was the male hippopotamus who had arrived in 1850, causing a sensation -  'Victorian hippomania'.

Adhela inhabited the zoo for over twenty-eight years, dying on 16 December 1882. She gave birth to a female calf, Guy Fawkes, on 5 November 1872. Guy Fawkes was successfully reared by Adhela and grew to be a much larger animal. There was some controversy about the name Guy Fawkes but she did retain it.

Guy Fawkes the hippo and the Giraffe House cat, circa 1895
© Gambier Bolton
Guy Fawkes and the Giraffe House cat, circa 1895. Photographed by Gambier Bolton

Visit the hippopotamus at Whipsnade Zoo and the pygmy hippopotamus habitat at London Zoo!

Use the Library's online catalogue to find more information about the artefacts we have at the library. It also contains links to relevant online resources:

Search the Library Catalogue


Further reading:

The ark in the park : the zoo in the nineteenth century  / Wilfrid Blunt, London : Hamish Hamilton, 1976.

London Zoo from old photographs 1852-1914 2nd ed / by John Edwards, London : Published by the author, 2012.

Victorian England's hippomania / by Nina J. Root in Natural History, 1993, Vol. 102, Part 2,  pp. 34-39

Wild animals in captivity ...3rd ed / by A.D. Bartlett, compiled and edited by Edward Bartlett, London: Chapman Hall, 1899.