Orphaned hippo Douglas, who captured the hearts of many after he starred on ITV1's ‘Paul O'Grady's Animal Orphans', has been successfully released back into the wild.
Douglas, who was just two weeks old and close to death when he was rescued, appeared on the show making friends with terriers Molly and Coco as he started an ambitious rehabilitation programme at the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (CWET). His carers are delighted that he has now begun his return to the wild in the nearby South Luangwa River - with a pod of wild hippo.
Will Travers, President of the Born Free Foundation, which supports CWET, said of the rescue mission: "I'm so pleased to be able to say ‘Mission Accomplished' for Douglas! Born Free believes that the individual animal matters – every wild animal deserves a life worth living and to be free. And today, thanks to the work of our dedicated partners on the ground in Zambia, we know there is one happy wild hippo living free again."
Anna and Steve Tolan, who established Chipembele, have over 16 years of experience rearing orphaned animals and returning them to the wild – but this was the first time they'd taken in a hippo.