|Israel’s most popular safari park says it has become the world’s top exporter of hippos. In the past few months, more than a dozen hippopotamuses have been shipped to zoos worldwide.|
“There is no profit in this export field, but without a doubt we are a unique zoo because zoos in general have only a small number of hippos,” says Sagit Horowitz, spokeswoman for the Ramat Gan Safari outside Tel Aviv.
But with more than 40 hippopotamuses in the zoo and a high birth rate, the zoo had to find a way to scale down the hippo population.
So far, fourteen hippos have been shipped by air or sea to Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam at huge cost and there is still a long waiting list.
According to Horowitz, the secret is to sneak up on the beasts that can weigh up to 3.5 tons when they’re sleeping. “If you shoot a tranquilizer at them when they are awake, they run into the pond and there is no chance of catching them there,” she says.
Once the hippo is sedated, it’s lifted with a bulldozer and moved to a crate.