The 40-year-old Elizabeth was part of a pair of pygmy hippos donated by the President of Liberia, the late Willian Tubman, as a gift to Kenyans through the late President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, in the 1970s.
Kenya Wildlife Service veterinary doctors are conducting a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of the animal’s death.
Unlike the Nile hippo, which is indigenous to East Africa, the Pygmy hippo is found in isolated pockets of West African forests and swamps of the Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and possibly Nigeria and Guinea.
Pygmy hippos are severely threatened due to deforestation and bush meat hunting with an estimated 2,000-3,000 individuals remaining, according to the World Conservation Union.
According to IUCN, the survival of the pygmy hippo in captivity is more assured than in the wild.
This species are primarily threatened by loss of habitat, as forests are logged and converted to farm land, and are also vulnerable to poaching for meat and natural predators.