Stewart Cowley’s The Hungry Hippo has been a bedtime favorite since its publication in 1986. The story tells of a grumpy young hippo named Potamus who stomps all over town in search of his favorite food (a peanut butter and jelly sandwich).
Real life imitated art on November 1 when one of the 24 hippos at the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan Safari took a stroll outside the zoo gates. Was he searching for food, too, or perhaps freedom?
Zookeepers may never know because, not long after he walked through one of the Safari gates, which was accidentally left open, and munched on some grass, he turned around and slowly walked back in, seemingly startled by a passing car.
The entire adventure was captured on camera. It took place at 6:07pm, after the Safari had closed for the day. A zookeeper who appears to be quite panicked as his hippo heads for the streets of the big city was very relieved when the saga ended peacefully.
Apparently the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
This is not the first animal escape attempt from the Safari. In 2015, three rhinoceroses – named Keren Peles, Rihanna and Karnivala – sauntered out the same gate before being spotted by astonished joggers out for an early morning run. Another rhino, Tibor, made the same trip in 2016.
As whimsical as the whole experience sounds (perhaps fodder for a Hungry Hippo sequel?) the management at the Safari said it is taking the whole incident very seriously.
“This morning we began a thorough investigation,” a zoo spokesperson said. “We will soon come to conclusions and act accordingly.”