Hippo dies in South Africa rescue opMODIMOLLE, South Africa (AP) — A hippo who wandered into a swimming pool at a South African game lodge three days ago died Friday before a rescue team could pull him out with a crane.
By: EMOKE BEBIAK,Associated Press, Associated Press
MODIMOLLE, South Africa (AP) — A hippo who wandered into a swimming pool at a South African game lodge three days ago died Friday before a rescue team could pull him out with a crane.
The high stress may just have been too much for the hippo known as Solly, said the lodge manager.
Wildlife rescue expert Simon Prinsloo had been pouring water on the animal with a bucket and then through a hose to keep the hippo hydrated. The team waited for a veterinarian to come before hoisting out the young hippo but he died as the vet arrived. The young hippo had plunged into the deep pool on Tuesday after being chased away from his herd by male members seeking dominance but the one-ton animal could not get out of the pool, which had no steps, on its own.
The plight of the stranded hippo captured the attention of many in South Africa. Live television coverage showed the hippo spouting water in the pool. But the lighthearted story became somber when the hippo appeared inert Friday morning.
One woman was crying at the scene as a crane lifted the lifeless body of the hippo into an orange animal trailer. Prinsloo, with tears in his eyes, confirmed to journalists the death of the animal.
The hippo showed signs of stress early on Friday morning, said Monate Conservation Lodge manager Ruby Ferreira, according to the South Africa Press Association.
"He was not as perky this morning, more agitated, like he was irritated. I think because he wanted to get out of the pool. That's my personal opinion," said Ferreira. She said there had been plans to get Solly out of the pool earlier, but the veterinarians had not arrived.
"We've been waiting for the vets and I think they were just a bit too late."
Ferreira said hippos are sensitive creatures and Solly was no different. His stress level had probably been rising since being forced from his group, called a pod, resulting in him taking shelter in the pool, said Ferreira. Once in the 2.4 meter (8 foot) deep pool he could not get out, likely adding to his stress.
"It all just added up and added up," Ferreira said.
While the lodge worked to care for the animal, there was no getting away from the fact that the pool was not a natural environment for Solly.
"Although we looked after him, it was an unnatural environment for him. We are really sad at this lodge today," Ferreira said. "It started out as a happy story and now it's a tragic story. It's devastating."
Dr. Alex Lewis, the veterinarian handling the case, arrived at the lodge near Modimolle, a small town north of Johannesburg, late Friday morning. Lewis was expected to help with the rescue the day before, but couldn't make it. When journalists questioned Lewis about not arriving earlier, he said he couldn't have saved the animal because of the aggravated stress it experienced ever since he had been fighting for a position in his herd.
Lewis said he had advised the owners of the lodge to feed the animal in order to make it strong enough for the rescue.
Doreen Cronje, a guest at the lodge taking part in a conference, said during the rescue operation that she had been inquiring about the animal and hoped that the hippo would make it out of the pool safely.
"Especially here in South Africa, we care a lot about our animals," Cronje said.