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.”