9th March 1989 – 2nd September 2023

It is with much sadness that we announce the passing of long-standing resident of 22yrs, Freddy the Pygmy Hippo, on Saturday 2nd September 2023.

The Animal Care Team had been monitoring and treating Freddy due to a carcinoma in his oral cavity. Freddy initially responded well to his medical treatment plan to reduce the size of the tumour, however, unfortunately it was not possible to remove the whole mass, which regrew. Freddy sadly took a downward turn in the last couple of days and after consulting with Colchester Zoo’s veterinary team, it became clear that there was nothing further that could be done, so the difficult but kindest decision was taken to put Freddy to sleep.

Freddy was born in March 1989 and arrived at Colchester Zoo in February 2001 from Givskud Zoo in Denmark. Since being at the Zoo, Freddy has fathered 6 calves between 2009 and 2020, contributing massively to the European Breeding Programme for his species which are currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

Freddy had such a large character and enjoyed attention from the Animal Care Team with whom he had built strong relationships over the 22 years he had called Colchester Zoo home. He has left the team with many fond memories, and he will be deeply missed by so many of the Zoo family and visitors alike.

Head Keeper, Ang Matthews, worked with Freddy for 14 years and said, “I had a very good relationship with him; he always loved the attention of the keepers and loved a scratch behind the ear. He was a very gentle animal and he adored Venus. Whenever they were mixed together, he would love to follow her about, but always had to do as she wanted! Freddy liked nothing more than to lay in the tunnel to the outside enclosure and just enjoy the heat of the sun. His inquisitive and friendly character made him very popular with staff and guests alike and he will be sorely missed”. 

Pygmy Hippo Cove will remain home to adult female, Venus, who arrived in 2002 and is now 23yrs of age. Although Freddy and Venus have been a successful breeding pair, they mainly lived solitary lives as they would in the wild and only came together during breeding season. Therefore, although Venus will miss Freddy during breeding season, her day-to-day life will not be affected by his absence.

Freddy’s passing comes at a time where the we are still mourning the loss of Anoushka the Amur Tiger who died on the 23rd August 2023 at the grand age of 19. Saying goodbye to animals, especially after so many years at Colchester Zoo, is the most difficult part of our job. Pygmy Hippos can live to around 35yrs of age therefore we take comfort in knowing that Freddy reached such a good age for his species and lived a long, happy life at Colchester Zoo.

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