Yesterday was a very sad day for Prague zoo. At the age of 33, Slávek the hippopotamus, one of the most popular animals, died.
Prague zoo veterinarian Roman Vodička said that the death had occurred after discovering symptoms of acute gastrointestinal pain. The autopsy showed severe inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Further details will be known after more tests are taken at the laboratory. Miroslav Bobek, director of Prague zoo, shared the sad news on Facebook.
Slávek, who would have turned 34 at the end of October, had a total of seven calves. Slávek played an important part in Prague Zoo’s history and had become a symbol of the catastrophic floods of 2002. An image of him with his head stuck out of the window on the first floor of the old pavilion has been printed on postcards.
Born on October 30th 1984, this exceptional hippo was known for being gallant, good-natured, a hero during the floods, and a father to many hippo calves. The friendly giant was particularly popular among the breeders.
“No one could resist his wide-mouthed smile” recalls Slávek’s breeder Martin Kristen, “He was a real personality, his muffled evening trumpeting could be heard echoing the old Elephant’s pavilion. I will always remember him.”
Hippopotami have a reputation for being some of the most dangerous animals in the world, especially the males, who fiercely defend their territories. However, Slávek was quite different. He always behaved like a gentleman, not only to females but also to the young. When rearing, it was not necessary to separate him from the young and the mother, which is a real rarity in a zoo environment.
Author: Holly Webb