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Young Hippo Dies During Attempted Rescue


R.I.P. Solly. What should've been a feel good story about saving a hippo ended in tragedy.

The young South African hippo in the water at the Monate Conservation Lodge near Modimolle, South Africa, Thursday, Aug. 23. 2012.

A hippo splashes around to keep cool as he is trapped in a swimming pool Friday Aug. 24, 2012, at the Monate Conservation Lodge, near Modimolle, South Africa.

Image by Denis Farrell / AP

The young male hippo, named Solly by rescuers, was forced out of his herd by dominant males. Reports vary as to whether the four year old was chased into the pool by larger males or went in of his own accord to cool off after the skirmish. However it happened, Solly became trapped in the South African lodge's deep pool when he realized it had no steps out.

For three days Solly remained at the bottom of the pool, fed and monitored by the game warden who discovered him while they waited with the rescue team for the veterinarian to arrive.

On August 24, 2012 the pool was drained so the hippo could be sedated without drowning in the remaining water. A crane was brought in to lift the soon-to-be unconscious Solly to freedom. Unfortunately, even with every precaution including pouring water on him to him cool and hydrated while they waited for the vet to arrive and start the tranquilizing process, Solly succumbed to his ordeal and passed away.

The team was understandably distraught, some breaking down in tears at the unfairness of it. When the vet finally arrived four hours late he deflected blame to the media for trying to rush the rescue. He added hippos are extremely sensitive to stress and he doubted he'd have been able to save Solly even if he'd been on time.

Hat Tip AP News

A hippo seen in a swimming pool Friday Aug. 24, 2012, at the Monate Conservation Lodge, near Modimolle, South Africa, after being trapped there for three days.

Image by Denis Farrell / AP

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