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Perching here and gathering my thoughts ...

A Hippo in the House

07 October 2010 ~ 10:42

Recently I watched an incredibly interesting TV programme called ‘There’s a Hippo in my House.’ It was about a South African game warden called Tonie Joubert who rescued the hippo as a newborn baby when she was swept away from her mother by a swollen river.

Jessica the hippopotamus is a bit like Skippy the kangaroo in the 1960s TV series. She is tame and sleeps on the veranda with the man’s dogs, but she is not fenced in and roams freely eating grass and wallowing in the river. She also takes food from the hand and allows the man’s wife Shirley (who thinks of Jessica as her baby) to massage her. She even plays gently with the dogs’ puppies and licks them, swims with ‘mum’ and allows her to sit on her in the water. Jessica’s favourite food is sweet potatoes and she even drinks very weakly diluted coffee out of a bottle!

The couple were keen for Jessica, who is seven years old, to become a mother, and were pleased when Charlie, a bull hippo, showed an interest by coming into the river to see her. Poor Jessica had developed a fear of other hippos after she was attacked by a mother hippo with a calf, so this was progress.

Unfortunately Charlie was shot dead by a neighbouring farmer for daring to eat his crops. There was no doubt it was him as he had very distinctive scars on his side. Tonie really summed it all up when he told Shirley ‘That’s humans for you. When God created human beings he did the worst thing ever.’

A vet thinks Jessica is still too young to have a calf as she is not big enough. But one day hopefully she will. The biggest fear is that she too could be shot. Hippos are dangerous and Jessica, who loves people, may approach someone just trying to make friends, be mistaken for acting aggressive, and be killed. Sounds crazy but perhaps Tonie & Shirley should put a collar on Jessica!

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