Jessica the hippo wows the world

2014-02-25 14:00
Weighing in at a modest 1400kg, Jessica the hippopotamus loves her Rooibos tea, consuming at least 20 litres per day. (Tonie Joubert, Sapa)

Weighing in at a modest 1400kg, Jessica the hippopotamus loves her Rooibos tea, consuming at least 20 litres per day. (Tonie Joubert, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Weighing in at a modest 1 400kg, Jessica the hippopotamus considers herself a human, with dogs as her best friends.

A movie star with her own fan club and web page, she loves Rooibos tea and has several suitors.

The hippo was a mere 16kg when she was found a few hours old on the banks of the Blyde River, near Hoedspruit, with her umbilical cord still attached. Frail and weak, she could not stand up.

And now at 13 years and 11 months she has become one of the country's most renowned tame animals.

"I see her as a dear friend, but more like a child", game ranger and human daddy Tonie Joubert told Sapa on Tuesday.

"When she enters the house, she first walks into the kitchen and puts her head on the counter. There she eats two loaves of bread and five kilograms of carrots."

Then she lies by the television and listens to classical music.

"She loves her Rooibos tea sweet [and] warm. She has 20 litres a day", he said.

"At bedtime we call her outside, give her bedtime tea and then she falls asleep."

Jessica sleeps on a mattress on the veranda with her best mates, five English bull terriers.

Joubert enjoys several leisure activities with Jessica, including swimming in the crocodile-infested river.

"She keeps crocodiles away from us. She protects us. She even killed one crocodile."

Jessica grazes on grass, but when tourists come she receives well-prepared sweet potatoes cut into slices.

Tourists are allowed to feed her when she jumps on top of a raft on the river.

In April 2001, Jessica became a movie star at the age of one-and-a-half. At last count, 97 documentaries had been done on her around the world.

"The most documentaries done on a single animal", said the proud dad.

These included playing a role in the South African movie Mr Bones, documentaries for Animal Planet, National Geographic, and the Discovery Channel. She even got to feature on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Jessica turns 14 on 11 March and the Jouberts are planning to surprise her with a big chocolate cake.

Joubert said she would continue to grow until the age of 20.

The family, who have never been hit by crime, have the most reliable wildlife security system in place.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  good news  |  animals

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