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November 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Hannah the Hippo!

The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center celebrates its pygmy hippo's 39th birthday

The Humane Society of the United States / The Fund for Animals

  • Preparing Hannah's birthday cake was a labor of love. FFAWC

  • After hours of preparation, Hannah's fruit-and-vegetable cake was set out for her birthday surprise! FFAWC

  • Full of organic fruits and veggies, Hannah's birthday cake was an instant hit. FFAWC

  • Particularly noteworthy is Hannah's new duck friend, whom she invites to share both her wading pond and her meals. FFAWC

  • At 39 years old, Hannah has a great time playing with her hippo-sized barrell toy. Ray Eubanks

by Ali Crumpacker

Pygmy hippos are a critically endangered species native to the brush of West Africa, but Hannah has never been to Africa.

She has traveled from the east coast of the United States to the west, where she has been residing for more than a decade at the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, California.

Hippo birthday

This month, Hannah not only graces the covers of All Animals magazine and Kind News, she also celebrates her 39th birthday—which happens to fall on Thanksgiving day. 

We are thankful to have been able to provide this lucky girl with a life free of suffering and to celebrate yet another birthday with her at the FFAWC. 

Hannah's three-tier birthday cake—crafted from frozen juice and decorated with veggies donated by Garden of Eden Organics—had the nocturnal hippo munching happily well into the night.

From exotic pet prop to happy hippo

Born in a zoo on the east coast, Hannah soon found her way into the unfortunate exotic pet industry. Eventually, she ended up in the backyard of a private owner, who had neither the permits nor the proper habitat required for Hannah.

Unlike their larger cousins, pygmy hippos are solitary creatures and prefer not to share their habitat with others of their kind.

But at FFAWC, Hannah still has a lot of friends. Each day, she happily cooperates with staff for her daily care (as long as apple cookies are involved!), and she receives lots of fun enrichment toys invented by our interns and volunteers.

And this year she has, for the first time ever, permitted a mallard duck couple to share her spacious swimming pond with her.

A hippo's golden years

Pygmy hippos normally live into their early 40s. At 39 years old this month, Hannah is the second-oldest pygmy hippo in the United States.

But as she basks in adoration and a bounty of birthday treats, she's not showing her age one bit! 

Read more about Hannah on her Facebook page »

The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, operated by The Humane Society of the United States in partnership with the Fund For Animals, provides care for more than 400 wild animals annually.

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