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Sarah Firmin
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I want a pet hippopotamus

24 July 2014, 10:16

About 10,000km from my home in SA, I have been living in London and feeling decidedly unhappy. Missing my homeland desperately one day, it finally dawned on me what's missing from my life - what single thing could make my life in London more like home - I need a pet hippopotamus!

Now don't get me wrong, I know that the population of South Africa don’t all have pet hippos, just like the people in the UK don’t have foxes and bears living in their homes, but just the idea of having a pet hippo fills me with emotions from my distant home.

So why a hippo? I think it’s an animal that says so much about my home in Africa – proud, belligerent, dangerous but often funny and absolutely huge! The parallels might not be there for everyone, but living in a different continent it’s absolutely clear to me.

I had the revelation while watching a recent program on UK TV, reminding me of the SA couple who have a pet hippo. Don't know if youtube links work but here's an attempt:

I did some further reading and Jessica has celebrated her 14th birthday earlier this year. Now this isn't a traditional Capetown family, but it shows it can be done, despite the dangers.

I work in a company that specialises in UK experience days so I have plenty of action and adventure. The zoos here offer chances to meet elephants and feed lions, but they’re only zoos with small enclosures, so far removed from the sweeping vistas and glorious nature of my home country. Life UK is just not SA, not to mention the lack of hippos.

As you’ll already know, the hippo is one of the world’s most  deadly animals and it’s a big problem keeping a pet hippo without it trampling me under its mighty hooves or crunching me in its massive jaws.

That’s not to mention the dubious morality of taking a hippo away from its home to live with me (I’d know how it feels and I’d never want to take out of its natural environment.)

So perhaps it’s just an idle dream of a homesick South African, and maybe it’s more the yearning for SA than a desire for a 2 tonne pachyderm, but I plan to get out of London, come back to Africa and start on the path to at least working with hippos. And then maybe, just maybe, I'll find a way to have one as a pet.

The UK is a great place, just not hippoey enough!

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