Featured Image Credit: ZooNation
The Manila Zoo said goodbye to their oldest resident last week, Bertha the hippopotamus. Passing away at 65 years old, Bertha beat the typical lifespan for the herbivorous mammal by decades.
On July 8, 2017, the 2.5 ton female hippo was found deceased in her enclosure. A post mortem examination concluded that Bertha died due to multiple organ failure, according to the zoo’s director James Dichaves.
“When I went inside to see her, trying to feed her, she would often greet me with an open mouth. Hippos are supposed to be the number one killer in Africa, but not Bertha — she was so gentle,” zoo volunteer Jerry Young told CNN.
At seven years old, Bertha arrived at the zoo in 1959 when it first opened in the Philippines capital. She was around to greet the first guests of Manila Zoo. Bertha was accompanied by her mate Bert until he passed away in 2008. Unfortunately, the two never produced any offspring.
Bertha enjoyed a long life full of love, around-the-clock care, and plenty of grass, fruit and bread. She lived far beyond the 40-50 year lifespan which are typical for hippos both in the wild and in zoos.
The common hippopotamus of sub-Saharan Africa faces a “high risk of extinction in the wild” from habitat loss and illegal hunting for meat and ivory from their teeth.
Bertha’s death leaves Mali, a 43-year-old Asian elephant as the oldest remaining animal at the Manila Zoo among the some 500 residents. Volunteers at the zoo will remember Bertha fondly and how she loved sweetcorn and cabbage. They plan to commemorate her through a small tribute on the 58th anniversary of the zoo on July 25 this year.