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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hungry, Hungry Hippo!

Hippopotamuses kill more humans in Africa each year than any other animal.  They are fearless, aggressive beasts weighing over 2 tons (4,000 pounds!) as an adult.  With these facts before me, WHY on EARTH would I ever want to kiss a hippo?  For the answer, watch the first few minutes of this:

Yep, I kissed Jessica, this precious girl of 12 years old, and I loved it.  She comes up to the dock on her own free will each day; she has no water gates or dam that keep her tightened within the Joubert property.  Each day visitors rub her back with their feet and toes, feed her diluted sweet tea and vegetable chunks, and kiss her sweet, bristly nose.  I had the pleasure of doing all of this with some of my best CARE friends:  Brittany, Melissa, Alex, and Brittany’s mom. 

Kissing Jessica

Meet Jessica the Hippo, 12 years old
After massaging, kissing, and feeding Jessica, an even more honorable privilege came our way.  Seven months prior (January 2012), NE South Africa had suffered massive rains and subsequent floods.  In some areas, floodwaters rose over 30 feet.  I saw the evidence at CARE: colossal hundred year old trees down that were located +50 feet from the river’s edges, and evidence of how high the waters rose.  Here at the Joubert property, there was more evidence of this recent devastation.  One could see river debris still caught in tree branches +20 feet above you.  During these floods, more familial damage occurred in at least one hippopotamus pod.

Richie, just recently born, was washed away from his family unit and was found by Tonie & Shirley in their river (shared with Jessica).  He still had his umbilical cord attached; he was less than 18 hours old.  He was small, helpless, and on the verge of collapse.  Selflessly, this 1 hippo family became 2, literally opening up their doors to him once it was certain his family was irretrievable  I met Richie at 5.5 months old: he was 160 pounds of pure preciousness.

Richie and friends
Richie lives inside the house and outside in his area of fenced yard, with all of the human visitors and family bull terrier dogs.  Dogs are his play friends and humans are his snuggling companions.  We walked into the gate, and  I immediately sat down near Richie. He lugged himself up onto all fours, then proceeded to gently, yet forcefully, plunk himself into my lap.  His great big head rubbed and burrowed into my lap, nuzzling on my legs for extra measure to melt my heart.  It was at this moment that my heart utterly and completely “went to the hippos.”  Everything around me went silent except for his quiet exhalations.  The world literally blurred around me as this small, helpless being sought out my comfort, and I his.  I was awestruck in his sweet presence, and warmed to know of his selfless caretakers.

"What do we abandon to claim our heart's desire?"
A.S. Greer

Jessica's daily (diluted) sweet tea treat!
Giving Jessica a back massage!

Yes, Jessica is as big as a rowboat! (But she doesn't like
to talk about her weight..)
See more of my pictures here on Facebook
 Jessica's personal page:

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