Oldest hippopotamus in captivity dies at 59 in Jerusalem zoo
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Oldest hippopotamus in captivity dies at 59 in Jerusalem zoo

Biblical Zoo says it is ‘a little like losing a friend,’ after Tami dies in her sleep ‘surrounded by lots of love and respect’

Tami the Hippo is pictured at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem on July 4, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Tami the Hippo is pictured at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem on July 4, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Tami, believed to be the oldest hippopotamus in captivity, died on Thursday at the age of 59 in her sleep at Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo, the zoo announced.

She was found dead in the lake of the African-themed area where she lived in the Israeli zoo, a statement said.

She was “the oldest hippopotamus living in a zoo,” it said.

“She died at an advanced age, surrounded by lots of love and respect.”

She was the only hippo at the zoo after the death of her partner Matti, a male, in 2006. Matti, 30, died after swallowing a tennis ball.

Tami had quickly established herself as dominant among the giraffes, zebras and rhinos in the African area, the zoo said.

“It is a difficult day for us,” zoo employee Gilad Moshe told the Israel Hayom newspaper. “A little like losing a friend.”

In July 2017, Bertha, believed at the time to be the world’s oldest hippopotamus in captivity, died aged 65 at Manila Zoo in the Philippines.

Prior to that, Donna, who died in 2012 at the age of 62 at the US Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden in Evansville, Indiana, was said to be the world’s oldest hippo, according to media reports at the time.

Hippos tend to live for 40-50 years. The mostly herbivorous and semi-aquatic animals are found in central and southern Africa.

Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo was founded in 1939 and contains some 250 species, most of which are named in the Bible.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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