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Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Hippo for Hope

"Art for wisdom,
Science for joy,
Politics for beauty,
And a Hippo for hope."

The bronze hippopotamus stands guard of the George Washington University campus, on the corners of 21st Street and H Street in Washington, DC.  It's not an especially old addition - presented to the campus in 1996 by University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, the hippo has since become the unofficial mascot of school, giving it's official mascot - the Colonial - a run for his money.  Students (supposedly) have taken to rubbing the bronze snout of the hippo for luck.  The quotation above is inscribed on the plaque beneath the hippo, along with the fanciful legend of the hippos that roamed 18th century Mount Vernon, swimming in the Potomac as George and Martha watched approvingly.

"And a Hippo for hope..."

Over the last few days, there's been another hippo in the news, one that's been generating lots of hope (though not from cramming pre-med students).  Just months after opening their new exhibit, the Cincinnati Zoo has been blessed with a baby hippo.  Only problem is, the little guy was a little early... like, two months early (hippo gestation is only 8 months, making this kind of a big deal).  Anyway, the little calf is too small to stand up, so the keepers have had no choice to hand-rear.  Mama hippo, on the other hand, has been a real team player here, allowing keepers to milk her to supplement the formula. 

That's right.  Someone out there is milking a hippo today (see the video clips below).  Even by zookeeper standards, that's pretty wild. 

Providing 24-hour care to a premature baby is quite a challenge.  Fortunately, the team at Cincinnati has been doing their best and making great strides in helping the calf along.  Even more daunting for them, this has been done completely in the eye of the public, a public which is demanding constant updates, cheering the zoo on.

Last year was a brutal one for Cincinnati Zoo.  It's been fantastic to see the public rally back around them as they work to save the life of a very special baby.  Best of luck to the keepers... and, of course, the hippo.


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