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Pachyderms and Non-African Hoofed Animals

The term pachyderm (meaning thick-skinned animals) is the original classification for elephants, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, pigs and tapirs. Wilhelma's pachyderms live in two houses, the Elephant House and the Tapir House. Our two Asian elephant ladies, Zella and Pama, live in the Elephant House. Up to year 2010 it had been four elephants, since then two of the "old ladies" died. One of them was Vilja, she died in July 2010. Vilja was born in 1948 and considered to be the oldest Asian elephant living in any European zoo before she died. With her and two other elephants, elephant keeping began at Wilhelma in 1952.

The great Indian rhinoceroses live in the same house – mainly the breeding pair Sani and Bruno. Wilhelma is very successful at breeding rhinoceroses. All in all 16 baby rhinoceroses have been born here since 1971. This is an important contribution to the preservation of this species, which is in danger of extinction

After letting go of its last hippopotamus in 2017, Wilhelma started keeping Malayan tapirs in that place. Hopefully, Penang from Rotterdam Zoo and Maya from Edinburgh Zoo will start breeding, for there are just 50 Malayan tapirs in European zoos. We also have a group of babirusas, which belong to the pig family. The babirusas from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi regularly have young ones, something which only succeeds at very few zoos.

Non-African hoofed animals live on the so-called Ranch, an outdoor compound that begins next to the Tapir House and extends as far as the entrance to the Demonstration Farm. In this area there are takins. The original habitat of the takins is the Himalayas, where these animals often live in herds of up to 100 in size. Takins are excellent climbers. Zoologists also have problems in systematically classifying them: they seem to be part mountain goat, part cattle.