photo - hippo hanging out in its pond, among the rocks, in its enclosure, mouth wide open, big teeth,

Louisville Zoo Says Goodbye to Female Pygmy Hippo Hope

CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
Direct: 502-238-5331  |  Media Only: 502-744-5639

With great sadness, the Louisville Zoo said goodbye to Hope, an adult female pygmy hippopotamus today. She was euthanized four days shy of her 25th birthday.

Hope presented ill two weeks prior and was under treatment for renal disease. Multiple exams and diagnostics revealed evidence of polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition that has been reported to affect over 1/3 of pygmy hippos. The disease has been found to be more common in females. The Zoo’s veterinary staff consulted with the Veterinary Advisor to the Pygmy Hippo Species Survival Plan (SSP) throughout the management of Hope’s illness. When Hope failed to respond to supportive therapies, and as quality of life deteriorated, humane euthanasia was elected by zoo keepers and veterinary staff. A necropsy and complete pathologic examination will be performed.

“These cases are never easy and euthanasia decisions are typically made as a group,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi. “Her kidneys were failing, she was not responding well to treatments and her prognosis was considered very poor.”

Hope came to the Louisville Zoo in 2011 from the Oklahoma City Zoo, in Oklahoma. She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Hope was in rotation with 26-year-old male pygmy hippo Maji and gave birth to a male pygmy hippo Jahari in 2014. Jahari is now at the Pittsburg Zoo, in Pittsburgh.


The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).