Look out -- happy hippo on the run
HIPPOPOTAMUSES mate in water, are born in water and spend most of the day wallowing in muddy pools -- but there comes a time in every hippo's life when she simply wants to have dry feet.
For Nikica, aged 11, that moment came this week after floodwaters surged through the zoo in Montenegro where she spends her days. Seizing the moment, she bobbed to the top of the cage and swam to freedom.
Now Nikica, weighing in at two tonnes, is a hippo on the run; an uneasy, lurking presence in the village of Plavnica. For the time being, there is no going back: the private zoo, on a small island on Lake Skadar, is completely submerged.
So, trailed discreetly by two armed security men from the zoo, Nikica is roaming freely, sizing up the locals. Children in the village have been told to stay indoors: sound advice, not only because hippos tend to be grumpy, but also because they spin their tails like rotor blades when excreting. "Nikica does not represent a threat to anyone," said Dragan Pejovic, the owner of the zoo, "unless someone attacks and kicks her."
Villagers have been laying out hay for her to eat. "When I left my house to feed my cow, I saw a hippo standing in front of the stall," said a farmer, Nikola Radovic. "I thought I was losing my mind," he said. (© The Times, London)