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There is a Hippo in our house!

Updated on August 16, 2009

Meet Jessica, our 7 year old teenager.

When a newborn baby hippo was washed up by a flood onto the lawn of Tonie and Shirley Joubert's riverside home, Hoedspruit in South Africa, they lovingly nursed the dying animal back to health.

What started out as a cute bundle of joy, weighing 35lbs / 15kg is now a humongous 7 year old weighing 1 653lbs / 750kg!

Hello I am Jessica!
Hello I am Jessica!

My daily routine

She eats, sleeps, swims and plays with retired game ranger Tonie Joubert and his wife Shirley. Tonie is her favourite ‘man' she greets him with special grunts and moans, flicking her ears rather then her lashes! There is no daily routine, but certain preferences are not to be missed like her 10 litters of sweet warm coffee, which Tonie bottle-feeds her with every day. At night after a tiring day, hanging out with Tonie and the other pets on the farm, she enjoys a soothing, and relaxing massage from Shirley.

Me and my favourite man, Tonie
Me and my favourite man, Tonie
Whispering sweet words in my ear
Whispering sweet words in my ear

Meet my Family

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Having our conversation of the dayMy familyOut for a walkOn a picnicMe in the kitchen looking for my treatsYummy my favorite coffeeI don't like the vet very much.Playing with my matesHaving a snack with my friendsGetting rid of those fleasPlay time!A bit of comfort from my mom, ShirleyNow for some peace and quiteand for some shut eyeCan someone tel Bruno to settle downThat's much better.
Having our conversation of the day
Having our conversation of the day
My family
My family
Out for a walk
Out for a walk
On a picnic
On a picnic
Me in the kitchen looking for my treats
Me in the kitchen looking for my treats
Yummy my favorite coffee
Yummy my favorite coffee
I don't like the vet very much.
I don't like the vet very much.
Playing with my mates
Playing with my mates
Having a snack with my friends
Having a snack with my friends
Getting rid of those fleas
Getting rid of those fleas
Play time!
Play time!
A bit of comfort from my mom, Shirley
A bit of comfort from my mom, Shirley
Now for some peace and quite
Now for some peace and quite
and for some shut eye
and for some shut eye
Can someone tel Bruno to settle down
Can someone tel Bruno to settle down
That's much better.
That's much better.

After breaking the Joubert's double bed three times, she got restricted to the kitchen. Where a closed door doesn't bother her at all she just opens it, and totters through the living room, on her way to the kitchen, where mother Shirley gives her dog pellets, which is but one of her treats.

You mind moving up Jessica!
You mind moving up Jessica!

I got restricted after breaking the bed 3 Times!

Now I sleep on the porch
Now I sleep on the porch
Sleeping with my mate
Sleeping with my mate

Hippopotamus amphibius

Geographic Range

Historically, hippos have been found throughout all of subsaharan Africa, but most populations have been reduced or exterminated. Currently, the only large populations of hippos occur in the Nile river valley of East Africa.

Habitat

The preferred habitat of this species is deep water with adjacent reed beds and grasslands.

Physical Description

Mass

3000 to 4500 kg

(6600 to 9900 lbs)

The hippopotamus is typically a slate brown color to muddy brown, with purplish hues often visible. A massive animal, it measures 1500mm in height at the shoulder and has a length of 4310-5160 mm, of which about 560mm is tail. The eyes and nostrils protrude, allowing the animal to see and breathe while otherwise submerged in the water.

Reproduction

The hippopotamus is capable of breeding year round, but it experiences seasonal breeding peaks during February and August. The birth of young coinsides with months of peak rainfall, October and April. The female hippo experiences a three day estrus, during which she is mated by the resident bull. After a gestation of 227-240 days, the cow gives birth to a single calf, weighing 27-50 kg. Calves nurse underwater and are frequently seen riding upon their mothers' backs while the mother is in the water. Males reach sexual maturity in the wild between 6 and 14 years of age, whereas females are capable of breeding at 7-15 years of age.

Behavior

They are also highly aggressive creatures and have little fear of humans. They are considered among the most dangerous African animals.

Most human deaths occur when the unlucky victim finds himself between a startled hippo and the deep water. Females with young are especially dangerous.

The hippopotamus typically sleeps during the day and maintains activity at night. It is not, however, strictly nocturnal. Hippos may cover up to 33 km of water each night in search of food. They eat mainly the grasses along the shores of the rivers they inhabit, but they have been seen grazing up to 3.2 km from the shoreline.

Hippos are extremely graceful in the water, despite their clumsy appearance on land. Their specific gravity allows them to sink to the bottom of rivers and literally walk or run along the bottom.

Hippos may occur singly or in groups of up to 30 animals. The central core of social groups appears to be females with their dependent offspring. Adult males vie for control of these herds. Aggression between males is intense. The hippos use their long canine teeth as weapons, and death often results from fighting between males. Most adult male hides are covered with scars from injuries incurred during such fights. Losing males are often relagated to a solitary existence.

Food Habits

Hippopotamuses are primarily folivorous, grazing on grasses growing along the banks of their river habitats.

Conservation Status

The hippopotamus has been heavily hunted. In 1995 it was listed on CITES appendix II. One subspecies, Hippopotamus amphibius tschadensis, is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN 1996 Redlist.


Vulnerable.

CITES: http://www.cites.org/

Other Comments

For years, it was reported that the Hippopotamus would sweat blood. We know now that this is not true. The hippo's sweat contains a red pigment, which makes it resemble blood.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Nathan 

    7 years ago

    I can tell you it is real. It must be so amazing. i would say lucky but she causes a bit of damage so........

  • profile image

    munchyrue 

    8 years ago

    I am Jessica's Godmother, and I can tell you that she is a very happy hippo and that Shirley and Tonie are her loving parents. As far as who taught Jessica how to drink

    her milk she was a baby was a difficult thing. I can say

    that with total confidence since I have been involved in

    rescuing baby wildlife myself. Jessica is free to go to where she wants. Their home is in the bush of S.A. She

    visits the wild hippos but always comes back to her family. Hippos are like that. They are very attached to their family members. There is a new film on Jessica. May

    I suggest you visit her web site. It is under recon-stuction right now, so it may take a few more weeks to get everything up and running properly. As time goes by

    there will be more and more items for sale to those who

    love her very much. I do hope you be patient if you are

    wanting to become a member of her fan club. It will all be up and running shortly. The web site will even have a

    live video feed to show her in her daily activities.

    If any of you get a chance to visit her in person, I can

    assure you that your heart will be touched. You will never foget that experience.

  • profile image

    Jamie(Girl) 

    8 years ago

    Hmmmm it looks real but i don't know about beds for hippos.

    Adorable pet though

  • profile image

    Jessica 

    8 years ago

    My name!!!! That pic is totally real!!!

  • profile image

    Robin 

    8 years ago

    Thank you, Tonie and Shirley for understanding that love comes in all shapes and sizes and that love is the Universal Language! When more people wake up and start understanding that, the world will be a better place! I relate to Tonie's sentiments about prefering animals to people, and hold the hope that people can learn to be more loving. Bless you, Tonie, Shirley and Jessica and all of their other "children"

  • profile image

    Dawn 

    8 years ago

    I have enjoyed this show many times and love Jessica and her family. I have wondered how Jessica is doing, if her feeding habits are any different and if she has found a new love interest for the future.

    Also very interested to find out that she has a previous Mother, Elsa, who must have loved her very much. Any new information would be greatly appreciated and a follow up show on her life would be enjoyed by millions all over the world. Still it is obvious her knew mother also loves her very much too.

  • profile image

    Anna 

    9 years ago

    omg i watched that on a show!!! it was hilarious! they said the hippo crashed on bbqs!!!

  • profile image

    Chris Miller 

    10 years ago

    Oh, that was too sweet. how cute is the hippo….and how timid…nice one

  • profile image

    Erika (Osmers) Green 

    10 years ago

    Jaap, so why did Elsa leave Jessica if she is so wonderfull? Saw documentary and actually had the privilage to visit them: Tonie & Shirley. Shirley care more for this animal than many parents do for their own children!

  • profile image

    Clifford 

    10 years ago

    Good for you both. And your correct about her finding a mate on her time. Enjoy the most unlikely love of your lives. Thanx again for the documentary. Absolutely spellbinded me to the tele.

  • profile image

    gerri 

    10 years ago

    Both my husband (John) and I sat and watche the very spell-binding documnentary on Jessica - is there a film out on DVD available? and is there any more news on this lovely animal?

  • profile image

    Jaap Serfontein 

    10 years ago

    It`s a shame that the name of the person who realy raised Jessica is not mentioned. She is ELSA the former wife of Tonie. She treated the small baby hippo for example stood up 3 to 6 times per night to feed the baby. Now, unfortunately other people get all the credit. Elsa named the hippo, lern her to eat and drink her bottle. Elsa got a new bed from a big mattress firm for Jessica to sleep on. Elsa you are our hero and thanks what you have done for the animal planet!!!

  • Annalene profile imageAUTHOR

    Annalene 

    11 years ago from Richards bay South-Africa

    I am so glad you all liked it, but then who wouldn't she is so darn cute!

  • cgull8m profile image

    cgull8m 

    11 years ago from North Carolina

    I agree with Janice Tshirtscene, that baby is real cute, that picture rhino in a bed is priceless :). Thanks for sharing the pictures and the details about Rhino very useful. Will show this to my niece. Cheers :)

  • tshirtscene profile image

    tshirtscene 

    11 years ago

    Gorgeous Annie. The bed picture was so cute, Poor baby got restricted too! lol. Awesome hub as usual, you have the most wonderful stories :)

  • Annalene profile imageAUTHOR

    Annalene 

    11 years ago from Richards bay South-Africa

    Me too! I just don't know about sleeping in my bed though!

  • profile image

    Janice  

    11 years ago

    What a fantastic pet. They must feel honoured in having the opportunity to nurse Jessica back to health, and to have such a pet. I would love it! Another great article Annalene.

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