I’d two great hippo photos from the San Antonio Zoo to put up on this blog, but alas, they can’t be copied over. They were both green screen photos of me and my sister posing. One with a friendly hippo. One with an angry hippo. I was pointing my cane straight at the mouth of the angry one. It’s a funny picture.
The hippo we actually came face to face with was a hungry hippo.
Or at least, one willing to eat what we threw into her widely gaping mouth. The male hippo refused to get out of the water and come see us. He watched.
This was at one of the San Antonio Zoo’s backstage experiences with their animals. They offer one with the okapi and one with the giant tortoises, too. (I think we’ll wait until mating season is over for the tortoises before we try that one).
We were led up the locked stairway behind all the flowers and bushes to see the engines needed to keep the hippo tank water clean, and then past heavily barred entrances that would have protected us from King Kong himself. Into the hippos private areas. And then down to the last barrier keeping us from the hippo tank where our keeper enticed the female hippo out to meet us. She didn’t come racing up, full of enthusiasm. She came stately, walking out of the water like a Hawaiian queen. Then opened her mouth for the food. We threw hay and food pellets into her maw.
We kept a relatively safe three feet away from her (but damn, she could push her head part way through the bars, and did!). I stepped back. My sister leaned forward. Nothing bad happened. We continued to throw food at the hippo’s widely open mouth, which she clearly loved. The male hippo still watched.
An open hippo mouth is a sight to behold. The ivory tusks surprised us. The rows of molars looked weird. There was some sort of bloody-looking discharge coming off her hide that the keeper explained. And then we got to touch her. Under the chin where it was relatively safe.
My sister and I have petted several rhinos, baby alligators, snakes, and now we’ve added a hippo to our accomplishments. When we were kids we got bitten by Shetland ponies and spit on by llamas. I’ve ridden an elephant. And I’ve got a photo of me as a child riding a giant tortoise back when zoos didn’t know any better.
We will never achieve the Manhunter/Red Dragon’s coup of caressing a sleeping tiger, but it remains a potent fantasy.
Love the San Antonio Zoo. Wish we were closer to the Fort Worth Zoo. Or the Houston Zoo. Check out their behind the scenes programs. Once we slept overnight at the Houston Zoo. Lots of fun.
You can find my books at:
http://amazon.com/author/gretchenrix and at the other usual sites.
Photos by Roxanne Rix.
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker. Street Justice by Kris Nelscott. Night Shift by Charlaine Harris.