Pygmy hippo mother Ellen introduces New Year’s Eve

Ellen and Eve meet their public
Ellen and Eve meet their public
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A RARE Pygmy hippo provided a late Christmas present for Edinburgh Zoo after she was born on New Year’s Eve.

The Hogmanay hippo, aptly named Eve, is only the third of her species to reside at the attraction after parents Ellen and Otto welcomed her into the world just hours before the bells.

The L'Hoest monkey is a 2011 addition at the zoo

The L'Hoest monkey is a 2011 addition at the zoo

She was the 136th – and the last – animal born at the zoo in 2011.

Although it was not a bumper year of births for the zoo, having seen 250 babies in 2009 and a only few less in 2010, keepers saw the arrival of several rare species including a Malayan tapir, a L’Hoest monkey and a giant anteater.

The birth of Eve, who went on display to the public yesterday, was only the second for her parents after they produced a female called Lieshan in 2009.

Mother Ellen was born at the zoo in January 2005, while father Otto was delivered from Berlin Zoo in 2008.

The species, which is much smaller than the common hippo, is native to West Africa but, unlike their relatives, pygmy hippos are solitary or live in small groups.

They are described as an aggressive animal, although they are herbivores which live on fruit, vegetables, leaves and grasses.

In forthcoming weeks, Ellen will have to teach Eve how to swim as the species is not born with that instinctive ability.

Little Eve will stay at the zoo for around two years before being moved.

In the wild, the species is facing a very serious threat of extinction due to habitat destruction caused by logging, farming and human settlement.

In addition to the late hippo arrival, the zoo saw the birth of several species of monkey, including 14 common squirrel monkeys, ten Guinea baboons, three Gelada baboons, five brown capuchins, two Pygmy marmosets, two Barbary macaques, a Goeldi’s monkey, a Howler monkey, a yellow-breasted capuchin and the L’Hoest.

They also welcomed a Mohilo bushbaby, a Potoroo, and two Grevy’s Zebra. Several birds were added to the flock including three Rock hyrax, 44 Gentoo penguins, two Waldrapp ibis, an Azure winged magpie, two lilac-breasted rollers, four Cochin-Chinese red jungle Fowl, a drill and a green-winged dove.