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Happy World Hippo Day! To celebrate our hippo love, here are some of our favourite hippos on the internet, real and otherwise. You can read about them all and many more wonderful, strange, endlessly fascinating hippos in Obaysch: A Hippopotamus in Victorian London by John Simons.

As well as telling the story of one hippopotamus, Simons considers how hippos and other "exotic" animals have been seen and treated in Europe through the centuries, and how this shifted during the Victorian era.

This fearsome hippo, drawn by Pierre Belon in 1553, is the first known illustration of a hippopotamus to have been published in France (image from Brigham Young University).

Knautschke was born in 1943 in the Berlin Zoo. His mother died during the bombing of Berlin, but Knautschke survived and after the war became one of the zoo’s most celebrated animals. He died in 1998 but lives on in this statue at the Freibad Werneersee swimming pool, now derelict. Image by Felipe Tofani.
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London zookeeper Ernie Bowman feeds a young pygmy hippopotamus in 1923, from the Zoological Society of London. In Obaysch: A Hippopotamus in Victorian London, John Simons explores the history of zoos and the experiences of the animals who've lived in them.

This statuette of Obaysch, made from Nile mud, was presented to Queen Victoria about five years after Obaysch arrived in London. Obaysch was captured in Egypt in 1849, when he was probably about a year old. He became the first “star” animal of the London Zoo, at a time when imperial expansion, commercial ambition, scientific exploration and changing ideas about animals were intersecting in complex ways. Writes John Simons: “Obaysch is, quite simply, the most important animal of the Victorian era.” (Photo: Zoological Society of London)
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You can read an extract from Obaysch: A Hippopotamus in Victorian London on our blog, or order a copy from our website.

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