Jessica The Pet Hippo

Jessica the pet hippo

A pet hippo? Yes, Tonie and Shirley Joubert have a pet hippo.

A newborn baby hippo was washed up by a flood onto the riverside of the game ranger’s home in South Africa. He nursed the dying animal back to health. As all living things do, she grew and grew. Jessica started as a cute 35 pound baby hippo, but now she is 7-years-old and weighs nearly three-quarters of a ton. She has gotten too comfortable with home and now that poses a problem to the Jouberts.

Attempts to try and reintroduce her to the wild have been unsuccessful, and if she is free to roam, she is in danger of being attacked and killed by other hippos or shot by local farmers trying to protect their crops and animals.

Why would Jessica even went to leave home? She eats, swims, plays with the family dogs (who needs a dog bed when you have a hippo), drinks coffee (a hippo on caffeine?), and enjoys massages from Shirley. It’s hippo heaven.

During the evenings, Jessica will go to the river for a mudbath, and on occasion, she’ll wander back into the house dripping with mud and plonk on the Joubert’s bed. She has broken the bed three times!

More on Jessica the pet hippo after the jump.


Even larger trouble looms because, being a big girl now, giant male hippos are beginning to turn up on the river’s edge fronting Jessica’s human home.

She became friendly with one of them, a 10-year-old bull nicknamed Charlie. But when he was shot by a neighbouring farmer, it also killed off hopes of finding Jessica a mate and sending her back into the wild.

“Jessica is so trusting,” says Shirley. “Our constant fear now is that the same fate as Charlie’s may befall our precious Jess, the gentlest creature on Earth.”

Says Tonie: “Some people have told me I was wrong to save Jessica. They say you have to be cruel to be kind and that I should have left nature to go its own way.

“But that would have guaranteed she ended up in a crocodile’s stomach.

“And look at the joy and companionship we would have missed out on.”

10 Responses to “Jessica The Pet Hippo”

  1. Pit Bull Lover says:

    I highly recommend the slideshow of Jessica with her human and canine family:×5r5

    It’s an unconventional situation, but I hope these folks work out a long-term solution to their hippo dilemma.

  2. 2CatMom says:

    I would think that Jessica could be spayed which would reduce the problem of boys hanging around and probably curb any desire she would have to wander. Now all they have to do is find a volunteer zoo vet to do the procedure.

  3. Susie says:

    God Bless the Jouberts - what an uplifting story! Of course they shouldn’t have left Jessica to die .. what a load of politically-correct nonsense that is … what is WRONG with all these people who insist “wild” animals must be returned to the wild - a very dangerous place to be! - if they are happy and content in domesticity?

    (I wonder how many of them have a pet dog or cat, or a horse - each of which have been domesticated fairly recently in evolutionary terms .. I see little difference bar size in Jessica’s case.)

  4. barbara nelson says:

    All creatures great and small……..The picture should have won the Pulitzer Prize. It’s sad that humans still abuse, hunt, kill animals. Hippos rule!

  5. kaefamily says:

    It is sadder that humans still abuse, hunt and kill each other. And we are the most evolutionized in the animal kingdom. Non-human animals rules :-)

  6. Dog Blog » Pictures says:

    […] first picture is of a “pet hipp” in South Africa. You can read about it at: Jessica The Pet Hippo. I just had to save the picture as it is […]

  7. Schnoidz Pigister says:

    An incredible story! The video is on YouTube.

  8. basslakes says:

    Oh, you, wonderful couple!! I love animals and I can’t believe that you are keeping a hippo. Blessings to your big heart! I don’t care what people think as long as you are happy with Jessica Hippo! Go for it!!!

  9. taylor says:

    I love hippos they are my favoritest animal in the whole wide world,they are sooooo cute

  10. Margaret Martin says:

    This is an old photo of Jessica. She now has a larger custiom made mattress and a nice soft blanket for those cooler evenings. Shirley gives her a nightly aroma and massage therapy session. She has traded in her coffee drink for a mango tea mixture.
    It was a sad day when Charlie was killed, but Jess now has a new bow called Fred. Jessica does not yet have any romantic interests, but Tonie is hoping that Jessica someday gives him a “grandbabyhippo”.
    For those of you interested in Jessica’s daily life, you can join her fan club at:

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