South African hippo dies before pool rescue

Hippo in the pool at the Monate Conservation Lodge, north of Johannesburg The hippo was named Solly by staff at the Monate Conservation Lodge

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A hippopotamus which had been stuck in a swimming pool of a game reserve lodge in northern South Africa for four days has died.

Correspondents say the hippo died before it was sedated to remove it from the pool, which had no steps.

The pool was being drained so the hippo could be tranquilised and lifted out by a crane.

Earlier the lodge's manager told the BBC the animal had been in some distress as the pool was being emptied.

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

South Africa's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told the Associated Press agency that the four-year-old hippo had been forced from its pod by dominant males.


Start Quote

I'm very heartbroken at the loss of Solly”

End Quote Ruby Ferreira Monate Conservation Lodge manager

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

But she said the hippo had become "stressed" on Friday morning as the pool was drained in preparation for its rescue.

The water had to be drained to prevent the hippo from drowning when sedated.

Wildlife rescue expert Simon Prinsloo told AP the young hippo had died even though water was being poured on the animal to keep it hydrated.

A vet who was to tranquilise the hippo arrived at the scene nearly four hours late and could not save him, South Africa's Eyewitness News reports.

"We've been waiting all morning. I'm very heartbroken at the loss of Solly," Ms Ferreira told Eyewitness News.

Earlier in the week, 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 in the Rondevlei Nature Reserve.

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