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Auckland Zoo Auckland Zoo Hippo's

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Joe Franklin, 22 Jan 2019.

  1. Joe Franklin

    Joe Franklin New Member

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    Does anybody know what the plan for Auckland Zoo's Hippo population is ?. I understand they have opened the area for extension of the Rhino habitat, Is this permernant ?.
     
  2. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    I believe it will be. The Southern white rhinoceros exhibit prior to the expansion was very small and not ideal for establishing a breeding herd. Auckland Zoo have recently imported a female for breeding, as well as allowing the Nyala herd to expand. I can't see them going back now and reducing the size of this exhibit.

    I had initially hoped that the Common hippopotamus exhibit would be repurposed as an exhibit for Pygmy hippopotamus, but that clearly isn't going to happen any time soon either with the zoo focussed on the South East Asian precinct and it's many associated imports.

    Despite the zoo saying they may get more (Common) hippos, I doubt this will ever happen. There was an issue concerning the large amount of effluent run off from their pond a while back (not sure if that was ever resolved) which would have been costly to address and since the region can't import more of this species, their options are limited. I suspect any suggestion they zoo MAY get more hippos was probably a nicer way of saying Auckland Zoo will never get hippos again (which would disappoint a lot of people). Auckland Zoo have a long association with hippos after all, going back to the 1920s.
     
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  3. Kiwi1

    Kiwi1 Member

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    It frustrates me a little bit to see another iconic species disappear from the country. I realise some of the hippo died younger than expected but it does make me wonder at the cost of building a no doubt expensive new hippo enclosure in the not too distant past.

    I suspect phasing out was planned as there has been no attempts at breeding or bringing in new bloodlines in many years. When I was a kid hippo calves seemed a fairly regular if somewhat inbred occurance.
     
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  4. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    The phasing out of the Common hippopotamus was essentially set in place from 1993. After unsuccessfully attempting to castrate a male hippo in 1987 (he died under anaesthetic); the zoo castrated Fudge in 1993. That same year; the breeding bull, Kabete, died. This left Auckland Zoo with no intact males.

    It’s hard to say whether Auckland Zoo planned to breed more hippos; or whether they would have castrated Fudge, if they’d known Kabete was going to die that year. It was clear just prior to Kabete’s death, they were close to capacity with 2.2 adults. In 1988, they exported two hippos, including a young female born at the zoo. Several calves around this time were killed by adults (indicating overcrowding) and the zoo even euthanised a newborn calf in 1991.

    With Kabete’s death reducing the herd to 1.2, I’d say it’s possible the zoo would have bred again if they’d had the option to. The only option however, was to import a second bull and there clearly wasn’t the space for this.

    The Hippo River exhibit opened in 1999; when the youngest hippo, Fudge, was 11 years old. With a life expectancy of 45-50 years, I’d imagine his death at 28 was quite unexpected.
     
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  5. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    What years did you see the calves? Was this in the Western Springs expansion; or the old hippo exhibit with the stream running through it? Do you recall how many exhibits they had during your visits?

    I have complied a list of hippo births here:

    Auckland Zoo - Common Hippopotami at Auckland Zoo
     
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  6. Kiwi1

    Kiwi1 Member

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    I was a kid in the 80's so from your list it looks like the calves were mostly from Faith.

    I did see both the original enclosure and the second one. The original one must have been quite small as I can remember thinking how comparitively large the new second one was but as I was probably only 7 or 8 the details are a bit hazy. However the second exhibit was definitely an improvement on the original. Probably a comparatively larger improvement between 1 and 2 than the improvement between 2 and 3.

    My memory possibly faulty is that the original exhibit was quite a bit shallower than subsequent as the top of there backs were always showing. But as I say it was a long time ago
     
  7. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Oh yeah, Faith produced three calves that survived to adulthood in 1982, 1987 and 1988 so it must have been them; and possibly Snorkle’s daughter, born 1987, that you saw. As you can see from the list there were many others born around that time that died the day they were born, or within a few days. I understand many were killed by the other adults.

    I’d be fascinated to know for sure what arrangements the hippos were kept in. At one stage they had two bulls, Kabete and his son Scuba (brother of Snorkle). Both are listed as sires of calves born around that time, implying they were kept separate (DNA tests wouldn’t have been done) as well as the obvious that two bulls wouldn’t tolerate each other.

    From the paternity of the calves, it appears Nada; her daughter Snorkle; and Snorkle’s daughter, Hope; were kept in one group, mostly with Kabete; and Scuba (son of Nada) was mostly kept with the new female, Bonnie.

    After Nada’s death in 1965; Snorkle and her daughter, Hope; seem to have been kept together; while Bonnie and her daughter Faith, born 1975 were kept separate. I’m guessing the deaths of Bonnie in 1982 and Hope in 1983 (which reduced the adult females in their respective herds to one) led to the merging of Faith and Snorkle in the late 80s - Faith produced surviving calves up until then; when suddenly both her and Snorkle started losing multiple calves.
     
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  8. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    I’m not sure if you’ve seen this video from approx 1955 @Kiwi1:



    The Hippos show up at 1.06 to 1.47. It appears the exhibit is split into two small exhibits with the stream running through it like a river. Heavy rain apparently caused it to swell somewhat but it does look shallow like you remember in this video.
     
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  9. Kiwi1

    Kiwi1 Member

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    I can recall internal fencing and seperated water area but don't know which enclosure that was in. Perhaps they were managed as two herds.

    I hadn't seen the video before but a lot of it recalls my first visits to the zoo in the early 80's. I would guess there was much more change from mid 80's till now than from the 30 preceeding years. It has changed a lot since then with probably less than half the mammal species and a fraction of the exotic birds. I personally miss the old aquarium as well.

    I never saw elephant rides at Auckland as in video but my parents have photos of a young me riding the Wellington Zoo elephant.
     
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  10. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    There were two enclosures for the two seperate groups with fencing seperating them. The stream that is shown running through is the stream that runs through the zoo today. This map:Auckland Zoo Map 1995 | ZooChat from 1995 shows the same hippo enclosure that is seen in the 1955 video from 40 years earlier. In his later years, Kabete was kept with Faith and her son, Fudge often.
     
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  11. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    I could be wrong; but I believe the hippo exhibit on the 1995 map opened 1975 as part of the Western Springs expansion. It was still in operation until 2009/2010 when Snorkle moved out (with Faith and Fudge occupying the new exhibit built 1999). The Hippo exhibit in the 1955 video was the original exhibit (presumably demolished around 1975).
     
  12. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    In 2009/10 Snorkle didn’t quite get along well with Faith and Fudge so she spent a year or two before she died in the moat of the current Baboon enclosure. I’m pretty sure the 1995 enclosure wasn’t part of the Western springs expansion as you can see a couple of comparisons between the exhibit in the video and the 1995 exhibit on the zoo map. But as you said, “ I could be wrong”- :p
     
  13. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    That's right, there was an attempt to reintroduce Snorkle to Faith and Fudge in 1999, but Fudge was too aggressive. It was noted at the time that they had been separated previously due to Faith bullying Snorkle.

    You've got me curious about the Hippopotamus exhibit, I'll have a look through 'Tiger by the Tail' and see if I can find anymore info.
     
  14. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    ‘A Tiger by the Tail’ doesn’t give a conclusive answer but says this about the Hippopotamus exhibit:

    Mountains of foaming detergent and coloured dyes entering the hippopotamus enclosure may have looked spectacular, but they also marked the beginning of the end of one of the zoo’s most natural exhibits...The environmental changes affecting the zoo waterway would soon reach a situation when the hippopotamus colony could no longer be safely accommodated in the creek.

    Inset newspaper article from 1976: Flooding at the zoo was getting worse and if it continued, there would be no place for the hippos. Construction had begun on new hippo enclosures but was delayed by lack of finance, Mr Wood said.

    In September 1979...The construction of a modern aquarium was underway, work had commenced on a new hippopotamus enclosure and in 1980...

    Source: A Tiger by the Tail (1992). Derek Wood.

    I wish I knew more i.e. was the original exhibit (1920s) simply expanded, or was it a whole new exhibit? The book supports the theory it was a new exhibit, yet from comparisons of the 1955 and 1995 maps, the location of the exhibit is near identical, suggesting they just remodeled it (albeit drastically). Do you have any memories of these events @Kiwi1? You mention the second exhibit was much bigger than the first, but do you know if it was newly built?

    Not sure if this is coincidental, but as well as three calves, three adult hippos died during this period of rehousing and upheaval: Scuba in 1980 (aged 16); Bonnie in 1982 (aged 24); and Hope in 1983 (aged 10). None were especially old considering the life expectancy of a hippo is 40-50 years, and even the zoo’s first hippo (which was born 1924 and lived through WWII) lived until the age of 30.
     
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  15. Kiwi1

    Kiwi1 Member

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    Given I remember the first new enclosure being built it must be post 1980 and probably a bit later still. Apparently I first visted in 1978 aged 4 but I have no real memories of that. If I had to guess it was mid 80's sometime but I can't be sure.

    I do think the enclosures were in very similar places and possibly even an expansion/reconfigurement of the old. My memories rightly or wrongly was the water still flowed through the second enclosure albiet with a dam or diversion in place. I tend to recall water slopping over the top when hippos were active.

    I could be wrong there though as its a long time ago and I never thought I would be talking about it 35 years later but I would not be at all surprised if they appeared on same place on map.
     
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  16. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    That’d fit in with the dates given in TBTT. The main difference between the original exhibit and the second exhibit is that in the original exhibit (as seen in the video from 1955), the stream ran like a river through the middle; in the second exhibit, the water comprised 1/2 to 2/3 of the front half of the exhibit, with land/concrete at the back. It’s possible they redirected the stream and remodelled the exhibit, but I don’t know where they would accomodate so many hippos during that time. Maybe they built one new exhibit, moved hippos in and then knocked down the dividing bars in the original exhibit to create a second exhibit.

    The best photo I can find on here is this one from 1992:

    hippos | ZooChat

    There is also a video here:

     
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  17. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    The original 1955 exhibit did flood often...I believe a hippo did escape once because of this. The water quality in the exhibit was often detrimental to the hippo’s health leading to the decision of either refurbishing the exhibit or building another one. The maps do have the hippo exhibits in fairly close location so it is possible that the exhibit may have only been refurbished.
     
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  18. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    That was Faith in 1977.

    This source:

    Zoo Alive (Spring 2012)

    Describes how a flash flood caused water in the creek to rise up to 3 metres, causing Faith to float upstream into Western Springs Lake. She returned of her own accord.

    This source gives the correct date of June 1977 (also has some interesting pics of the zoo’s history):

    https://interactiondesignresearch.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/zoo.pdf

    While researching, I also came across this embarrassment of an article (rife with inaccuracy):

    Photo recall: Flood puts Bonnie in Motion

    Unless there was a second escape in 1979 (I’m sure lessons were learnt from the 1977 escape), they got both the date, the name of the hippo and the picture wrong. The same picture appears in ‘A Tiger by the Tail’ noting the fence was damaged by fighting hippopotamuses (nothing to do with a flood). The article then adds further insult by saying Bonnie was a ‘lovely’ and ‘gentle’ hippo who died a couple of years ago (2011). Bonnie died in the 1980s, they’re confusing her with the ‘lovely’ and ‘gentle’ Snorkle.
     
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