Hippos provide precarious resting place at Longleat
6:41pm Tuesday 20th August 2013 in News
At first glance it must have looked like the perfect spot for a heron to do some fishing on a lake at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.
Indeed the ‘rocks’ looked so appealing the heron was soon sharing its prime waterside location with a pair of ducks.
None of the birds seemed overly concerned to discover the rocks in question were actually the massive backs of the Wiltshire wildlife attraction’s most dangerous residents – a pair of moody hippos called Spot and Sonia at close to 3.5 metres in length and weighing in at around 1.5 tonnes each.
However neither hippo seemed to be overly concerned by the birds’ presence and keeper Jon Reynolds believes both duck and heron may even provide a spot of personal grooming for the hippos by picking off any insects which land on them.
He said: “Spot and Sonia have been living in the lake here at Longleat since 1976, they share it with a group of Californian sea lions and in the past we’ve actually seen some of the young sea lion pups jumping on to the hippos’ backs as a sort of game.
“Although they’re both fairly short-tempered they seem to put up with this sort of treatment without too much fuss.
"Their skin can be up to seven centimetres thick in places so I doubt they even feel the sensation of feet on their backs."