Zoo

The Hippo`s Time

Toby Ninan retired from Delhi Zoo about two years back. With his varied experiences with the wild animals in the zoo, he is the right person to direct your queries to. Hear what Ninan has to say about his life and chosen career!

Our hippo would soon be a Mamma! Something that we all looked forward to.

I had only seen a baby and momma from the safe comfortable confines of a jeep with plenty of good food and cold beer inside me.

This was all different-only me, the compounder, Papa and Momma inside the open enclosure. It was evening and there was no sign of baby making his or her appearance. Momma had been duly separated as I did not know how Pop would react towards the new arrival. The water in Momma's tank had been reduced to a mere 9 inches so that it would give a cushion without drowning the baby falling from a height of about 21/2 feet from the standing mom.

The whole day there had been crowds to keep us all company and everyone was curious to know how the usual playful hippo who used to frolic with Poppa, was now standing still. Her keeper's effort to offer her favourite tidbits, which used to be welcomed with a wide-open mouth, was now greeted with painful straining.

Well the evening shadows were coming on and it would soon be dark, which meant that after some time we would not be able to offer much help.

 It was time to act while there was still shimmering light. We, the compounder (the zoo vet was out), keeper and myself realized the life of our hippo depended on some immediate help from our side.

All three of us jumped in and coaxed out the huge Momma from her tank. Then we resolutely went to work.

I admit I was wary about how mom would react when I put my hand-after they had been duly greased and disinfected-into mom's backside. After feeling about I could sense that the baby was 'placed' wrongly and had to be straightened out. Well, a series of pulls and pushes did the trick and I could feel the baby coming out into this evil world. We were all surprised and relieved that Momma was very cooperative and stood still in spite of my feeling all around her insides. She was aided by the music of encouraging words by her keeper. His continuous coaxing gave us all a feeling of well being and a foreknowledge that everything would turn out fine.

Soon baby realized his time inside mamma had come to an end and he presented himself, all thirty kilos, to the utter relief of all the 'midwives' present. Kaaba, that is mamma mia, soon took over and gave junior a thorough licking. The glistening young man was seen drinking mouthfuls of warm milk, and here again was another bright new day that brought crowds of admiring people.

 I will tell the story of how Kaaba came to us from Japan next month!




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