Pygmy hippo trots into London Zoo as part of conservation breeding programme

ZSL London Zoo/Cover Images

Adorable pygmy hippo Amara has moved into her new home at London Zoo, where she has been enthusiastically welcomed by her new hippo-hubby, Thug.

The two-year-old female was chauffeured on the 400-mile journey from Edinburgh Zoo to the iconic conservation zoo on 9 February after being matched up with Thug via the European Breeding Programme (EEP) for the Endangered species.

Pygmy hippo keeper Poppy Jewell said: "Amara was really chilled when she arrived - she happily trotted straight out of her cosy travel crate and into her new home where she enjoyed a tasty snack of kale and cabbage before settling down for a snooze."

With only an estimated 2,500 pygmy hippos left in the wild, officials at ZSL - the science-driven conservation charity behind London Zoo - have worked to protect the species, which is particularly threatened by hunting, logging and mining, through their work with local communities and wildlife authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as this vital conservation breeding programme.

Amara, who weighs 200kg, and 26-year-old Thug, who tips the scales at 280kg, hit it off straight away when they were introduced in the pair's hippo hot tub, a warm soothing spa for the duo to wallow in as the species does in the wild.

"Unsurprisingly, Thug - whose name is a purposefully ironic one as he is actually a gentle giant - was really excited about having a new lady in his hippo hot tub, while Amara was cool, calm and collected; she's definitely going to have the upper hoof in the relationship. All the signs we've seen so far have been really encouraging and in a few years' time, when Amara comes of age, we have our fingers crossed we'll hear the trot-trot of tiny pygmy hippos."