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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Thailand’s oldest hippopotamus’s birthday celebrated with song, ‘cake’ made of vegetables

Mae Mali, which means Mother Jasmine in Thai, has already outlived a hippo's typical life expectancy of around 40 to 50 years old.

By: Reuters | New Delhi | September 9, 2020 12:15:31 pm
Thailand, hippopotamus, Thai hippo, birthday, 55th birthday, oldest hippopotamus, Thailand oldest hippopotamus, hippopotamus birthday, Trending news, Indian Express newsThailand's oldest hippopotamus "Mae Mali" eats fruit and vegetables during her 55th birthday party at Khao Kheow zoo in Chon Buri, Thailand. (Picture credit: Reuters)

As children and other spectators sang to mark her 55th birthday, Thailand’s oldest hippopotamus Mae Mali chomped on an assortment of fruit and vegetables arranged in the shape of a cake.

Mae Mali, which means Mother Jasmine in Thai, moved to a compound at Khao Kheow Open Zoo in eastern Thailand two years ago from a zoo in Bangkok. She has already outlived a hippo’s typical life expectancy of around 40 to 50 years old.

“Mae Mali is now a grandma. We have been taking great care of her health, food, and environment,” said zoo director Attaporn Srihayrun.

Mae Mali eating fruit cake at her 55th birthday party. (Picture credit: Reuters)

Mae Mali gave birth to numerous calves, and her descendants, now 21 hippos, reside in zoos across the Southeast Asian country.

“Mae Mali cannot reproduce anymore because she’s quite elderly. But we will still take great care of her so that she can become one of the longest living hippopotamus in the world,” said Attaporn.

In the wild, the hippopotamus lives in rivers and lakes in sub-Saharan Africa and habitat loss means it’s now considered vulnerable.

Mae Mali at her 55th birthday party at Khao Kheow Zoo in Chon Buri, Thailand. (Picture credit: Reuters)

In the neighbouring Philippines, Bertha, considered to be the oldest hippopotamus in captivity at the time, died in 2017, aged 65.

Another hippopotamus, Lucifer or Lu, is reported to have celebrated his 60th birthday at a wildlife park in the US state of Florida in January this year.

With adults weighing from 1,500 kilograms (3,304 lbs) up to 3,200 kilograms, the hippo is the second-heaviest land animal after the elephant, spending the heat of the day in the water and coming ashore at night to feed on grasses and fruit.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates there are around 1,15,000 to 1,30,000 left in the wild.

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