May 13 | 1 Comment
This story is unbelievable. So much so that I had to make sure it wasn’t posted on April 1st. Take a read, or if you’re already feeling like the dog days of summer are upon us, just watch the video at the end.
To come upon a hippopotamus in the wild would be sobering and cause for serious alarm, but a South African family has become surrogate parents to a hippo in their house as their pampered pet. Jessica the hippo prefers her home creature comforts to a life in the wild as she wanders around their house, eats at their table, drinks sweet coffee, and even gets a massage before she goes to bed. Shirley and Tonie Joubert rescued the abandoned hippopotamus from a river bank on their property in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, South Africa after a devastating flood when she was merely hours old, and still had the umbilical cord attached to her in March 2000.
Traumatized and in dire need of her normal milk, the former game ranger created a substitute for the orphaned hippo.
The Jouberts’ hand raised her – not wanting to leave her to dire fate of being eaten by crocodiles or starving to death – fully expecting her to return to the wild as soon as she was old enough. They’ve spent the past 8 years raising Jessica, and the world’s only tame hippo has never left since.
Hmm…they’re kinda like cats. Give them an opening, next thing you know, they don’t know when to leave.
“I don’t know whether she thinks I’m a hippo or she thinks she’s a human. But we have the most fantastic bond.” When Tonie calls her name, Jessica honks out her own greeting in return.
Jessica seems to believe she’s part of the family and regularly forces her way into the house. “We try to keep the door closed, but she pulls down the handle and lets herself in.” Shirley adds.
Imagine having a hippo around the house. You’ll never have to worry about how you look. It’s like if you’re a little overweight, you don’t want to be hanging out with the fit Jack Russell in the neighborhood. Nope, hang with your chubby Cocker Spaniel buddy and you’ll always look great.
The monster mammal gets sweet potatoes and a bowl of wheat bran for breakfast, her favorite meals of corn on the cob and cabbage, regular snacks of dog biscuits which she shares with the Jouberts’ English bull terriers, drinks up to 20 liters of weak coffee a day which Tonie bottle feeds to her, and is even allowed to eat from the kitchen table.
Wheat bran and coffee for a hippo? That can’t be pretty.
“She’s already broken a bed and a sofa, and it can be very messy because she’s not house trained.” It’s become a bit of a problem because she’s now broken the Jouberts’ bed 3 times.
Not house trained? Yup, that ain’t pretty.
And when Jessica fancies a swim in the river, Shirley accompanies her down to the bank and swims on Jessica’s back, arms around her neck.Jessica’s best friends are the Jouberts’ dogs, Za Za the Rodweiller and the Bull terriers who fight for a share of the biscuits.
Tonie says, “Jessica loves the dogs. She plays in the garden with them, and they keep the birds from bothering her. Every time one flies near her, the dogs snap it away with their jaws.”
Finally we get to the point of this story: Dogs are great, we even make an African killer feel welcome.
You can learn more about Jessica at Jessica the Hippo website.