This is Jessica the hippo... rescued by an aging South African couple who don't have children. I watched the entire episode on Animal Planet last night and found it to describe all birkie "humanitarians" in a nutshell (a one hour long- including commercials- nutshell).
Here's the video from youtube...
Here's what I find so offensive about these idiots.
They feed this animal sweet potatoes and dog food. They had a vet swing by to check the health of Jessica and to find out if she's able to get pregnant. You know- it would be SO CUTE to have a baby hippo in the house. I'm SURE that Jessica wouldn't fit into the classic stereotype of an overly protective wild animal mother. You know- because we're one with her... we're family (gaaaaaaaaa).
The vet tells them that it's fine to feed Jessica sweet potatoes- just not 20 kilos of them a day. The high sugar, low fiber and lack of protein aren't what a healthy hippo needs to be consuming. What she needs is what they feed hippos in zoos- lucerne hay and horse feed. Of course, after 5 years of eating sweet potatoes and dog food, Jessica is not interested in hay and horse feed.
These people make some feeble attempts at feeding her a healthy diet but after 1/2 hour of trying, they give up and decide they know best- she'll be having sweet potatoes and dog food.
They make their case by reminding us all that Jessica is not penned in and has free range to eat all the food that the wild hippos in the area eat so it's ok. Never mind that she has chronic diarrhea and that she's underweight for her age. Mommy and Daddy know what's best for her. Just because this is their first pet hippo, it doesn't mean they don't know exactly what they're doing.
Keep in mind that the whole reason they called the vet in the first place was because they want to get this hippo pregnant. There are several problems with this.
1. She's underweight by 200 pounds- hippos reach puberty based on weight- not age
2. Hippos typically reach sexual maturity when they're 7-17 years old... Jessica is 5 years old
3. Hippos are active at night- Mommy and Daddy insist on giving Jessica a massage at night and lulling her into sleep. You know- so she fits into THEIR schedule- not her natural schedule. Since she's sleeping while other hippos are active, she doesn't get socialized to hippos. This is good for Mommy and Daddy but bad for Jessica. (To get a hippo pregnant, she needs to have intimate contact with a male hippo. To have intimate contact, you must first have ANY contact).
4. Jessica is terrified of other hippos. When she was a year old, she suffered an "unprovoked" attack by a pregnant female hippo. Scroll up to where I mention these people are trying to get Jessica pregnant and expect her to remain her "normal", docile self.
5. There was a bull hippo in the area who had expressed some interest in Jessica. Since she wasn't overly afraid of this hippo, Mommy and Daddy (M & D) encouraged her to become better acquainted with him (Charlie). In doing so, M & D got within 6 feet of a wild, male, potentially sexually aroused hippo. Daddy admits that any of his game warden friends would have said he was crazy for doing this and that the rifle by his side would do little to prevent harm coming to them, yet there he is. In classic birkie style, he puts himself, others and an animal in danger for the sole purpose of proving how he's "one" with the wild.
6. When Daddy goes to pick up his weekly truckload of sweet potatoes, the green grocer gives him a picture of several local men posing behind the hippo they shot. This hippo was found eating the farmer's crops and it's common practice to shoot animals who damage farms or human dwellings. M & D get tears in their eyes as they acknowledge "it's Charlie". They don't go into the fact that hippos can be definitively identified by the scar patterns on their sides. They don't need to bother with such tom foolery- they know it's Charlie in their hearts- a FAR more certain method of knowing. Mommy and Daddy discuss the brutality of killing a hippo- a common practice in their area.
7. Mommy doesn't have the self-discipline to set some basic ground rules- like NO HIPPOS IN THE HOUSE. They've replaced the door knob to the house 20 odd times since that's how Jessica gets into the house and onto their bed- to sleep. Of course at 1800 pounds, she breaks the bed repeatedly. Daddy decides enough is enough and makes a steel door to keep Jessica out of the house. Mommy is not happy with this and sits on the couch weeping for poor Jessica as she tries to find her way into the living room.
The best part of all of this story is that in pursuit of their ideology, they're disregarding all the warning signs that this hippo is going to kill them some day. As she approaches maturity, she gets more and more aggressive- they call it being playful.
Many people know about the "Big 5" in Africa. Lions, Cape Buffalo, Elephants, Rhinos and Hippos. These are the five largest and most lethal (to people) animals in Africa. Of these 5, guess which is BY FAR the most lethal? That's right- hippos.
In closing, my only hope is that this saga ends the same way as "Grizzly Man".