Posted In Visitors | 2nd May 2024

Ernie, male hippopotamus, dies at Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Ernie, our male hippopotamus.

Ernie, who was aged 20, arrived in April 2024 from the West Midlands Safari Park in England and joined female Heidi at the African Plains. Described as ‘inquisitive’ and with an ‘active nature’, Ernie was a vibrant addition to Dublin Zoo and was settling in well before his unexpected passing.

On his arrival, Helen Clarke, team leader at Dublin Zoo, had said, ‘it has been great to see Heidi taking such an interest in him already and we know visitors will enjoy seeing Ernie grazing in his outdoor habitat and enjoying the indoor pool.’

The Dublin Zoo team is devastated and mourning the loss of Ernie who we already had grown extremely fond of. A comprehensive examination is being carried out to understand the cause of his sudden passing.

About hippopotamuses

Hippopotamuses are one of the heaviest animals on earth, sometimes weighing up to three and a half tonnes. Hippopotamuses are known as a semi-aquatic animal which means they can spend time on land and in the water.

These animals are mostly found across Sub-Saharan Africa in shallow lakes, rivers and swamps. They have many adaptations for their specific lifestyles, including walking and leaping along the waterbed. They are often visible only by their eyes, ears and nostrils, helping them stay alert while submerged in the water.

Hippopotamuses are currently listed as vulnerable, classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The main threats to this species are poaching, hunting, agriculture and building developments as well as climate change, causing drought in the areas they live in.