Chance for children to get creative and bring The Armley Hippo back to life

Leeds, Leeds Star

Creative youngsters in Leeds can travel 125,000 years into the past to bring the city’s prehistoric hippo and its fossilised friends back to life.

An exciting new competition at Leeds City Museum is giving children aged between five and 12 the unique opportunity to write a short adventure story and draw a picture of the famous Armley Hippo.

The winning story and picture will then be turned into a cartoon, which will be shown to visitors at the museum during a special hippo-themed exhibition next Easter.

The museum’s iconic hippo has been frozen in time for more than a hundred millenia, with its bones currently on display in the museum’s spectacular Life on Earth Gallery.

Workmen digging close to where the Armley Gyratory stands today discovered the huge mammal’s remains in 1852, along with bones belonging to a horse, a mammoth and an auroch, which was a type of long-horned cow.

It has since become one of the museum’s most famous exhibits.

Neil Owen, Leeds Museums and Galleries assistant curator of geology and natural sciences said:

“Where Leeds is today would have been a very unfamiliar place 125,000 years ago, where hippos and other prehistoric animals would have been a common sight.

“At that time, the River Aire drained into a huge swamp, with trees, ferns and grassland surrounding its banks and the climate was much warmer.

“It’s incredible to imagine that places which are so familiar to us today could have been so profoundly different and we hope that will help to fire the imaginations of young museum-goers , giving them the inspiration to come up with some fun and exciting stories.”

Competition entries should be submitted on a sheet of A4 paper and should include a story of no more than 300 words about the hippo and his friends and an adventure they might have been on.

On the other side, entrants should draw a picture of the hippo and his friends or their favourite scene from the story. Entries can be submitted in person at the museum or by post.

Entries can be handed in at the museum before January 6, 2017. The winning picture and story will be turned into a cartoon with hippo or mammoth toys for the winner and two runners up.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “This competition is a fantastic way to bring history to life for young people and to encourage them to use their imaginations and creativity.

“We’re very lucky and proud to have such an important specimen like the Armley Hippo on display and it really brings home just how much history there is in Leeds.”