Africa

Bid to free South Africa swimming pool hippopotamus

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Media captionThe hippo is being fed by staff who say it is calm and relaxed

A team of experts is to attempt to rescue a hippopotamus which has taken over a swimming pool at a game reserve lodge in South Africa.

The hippo took to the pool on Tuesday at the Monate Conservation Lodge, north of Johannesburg.

The swimming pool will be drained and the hippo sedated before it is lifted out by crane.

Earlier, residents of Cape Town were also warned about a stray hippo, after one was sighted in gardens and roads.

Relaxed

Lodge manager Ruby Ferreira told the BBC's Newsday programme that the hippo, named Solly, has been quite happy swimming in the pool, which is 2m (6.5ft) deep, 10m long and 5m wide.

"Solly's got plenty of space to move around," Ms Fereira said, the problem is that the pool has no steps so the hippo is stuck.

The rescue operation is planned to take place on Friday.

The water has to be drained, otherwise the hippo will drown when sedated, she said.

The hippo will be strapped up, hoisted out by a crane and taken to another animal sanctuary.

"There is always a chance that the animal might not make it," she warned.

"It's been in the pool now for three days - it's really stressed with all the media coverage - and he's a bit agitated this morning, this is now his sleeping time," she said.

South Africa's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told AP the four-year-old hippo was forced from its pod by dominant males.

'Dangerous'

Meanwhile, residents of Cape Town were warned about a stray two-year-old calf that had been spotted in Zeekoevlei, a district south-east of the city centre, after it too was separated from its pod.

Wildlife officials are hoping to guide it back to its home pod.

If that failed they would consider capturing or darting the animal, they said.

"The public is advised to be particularly cautious, as hippos are known to be extremely dangerous wild animals," the city said in a statement, warning people not to approach or stop the animal.

"This could lead to dangerous encounters and may potentially prolong the capture operation by influencing the animal's behaviour."

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