Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 11:48 UK

Zoo unveils rare pygmy hippo baby


Leishan is now old enough to be seen by visitors to the zoo

A pygmy hippopotamus has been born to a new breeding pair at Edinburgh Zoo, it has been revealed.

The zoo said Leishan was born on 9 May at Edinburgh Zoo. She is the first offspring of Ellen and Otto.

Pygmy hippos are found only in West Africa, where they are now critically endangered through hunting and the loss of their habitat.

Edinburgh Zoo has had a successful breeding programme for many years, with 16 calves born since the 1970s.

Animal collection manager Darren McGarry said Ellen - who was named after yachtswoman Ellen McArthur after being born at the zoo in 2005 - was already proving to be a great mother.

And he said the new addition was set to be a hit with visitors to the zoo.

Mr McGarry, who also sits on the European Endangered Programme Committee for the species, said: "A pygmy hippo baby is an exciting addition for us.

"This baby will be very popular with visitors to Edinburgh Zoo this summer.

"Its birth will also contribute to the sustainable breeding of the pygmy hippo species both in UK and Europe."

He said Leishan had gradually been gaining weight in her first two months of life, and was now old enough to begin exploring her enclosure and to be seen by visitors.

Leishan is a west African name meaning gift.

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