Pygmy Hippopotamus

Thug the pygmy hippo in his new enclosure

What they look like

The pygmy hippopotamus is, as its name suggests, much smaller in size than the common hippopotamus – which weighs approximately five times more. Pygmy hippos, unlike common hippos, are far more adapted to a land-dwelling lifestyle with fewer webbed toes and a smaller more streamlined head. Significantly their eyes are on the sides of their head instead of on top showing enabling them to see better whilst running through forests. Both sexes have long tusks and are usually difficult to tell apart.

Animal facts

Hippos have very sensitive skin which easily becomes dry and cracked. A fluid oozes from glands under the skin which helps keep the skin moist and stops sunburn. Pygmy hippos like being alone and avoid each other in the wild, meeting only to mate.

What they eat

Water plants, grasses, leaves and fruit


Rivers and swamps in dense forests

Where they live

Western Africa


Hunted by man and leopard for their meat

Visit our pygmy hippos at ZSL London Zoo

Life Span
40 years