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How we almost got hippos

hippo-ranch
Intro by Jeffrey Chitek

If you find your way to virtually any body of water during the summer months in SE Louisiana, your going to likely see more green than water.  We have a mortal enemy in these parts…an invasive species that has been killing fish, upsetting natural PH and oxygen levels, and choke-holding the fragile waterways of Louisiana for well over a century.  The Water Hyacinth, a native to the Amazon River Basin, was brought to the US in the 1880’s as an ornamental feature of all purposes…It was brought in because it has a pretty purple flower.  Fast-forward to modern day Louisiana and other effected areas of the tropical world and this pretty flower has become a symbol of distress and hopelessness regarding the plants resilience and seemingly boundless propagation.  It could have been different.  There were plans, in the early recognition of the coming problem, to eradicate this terrible plant in a very unique and unthoughtful manner…I speak of course of the proposal to introduce hippopotamus into Louisiana’s swampy landscape.  As someone who spends alot of my time in a swamp, the thought of hippos sharing that space is terrifying and fascinating.  What were these people thinking way back in 1910?  I found a great article from wired.com that explains the rationale of those involved and tells the story fantastically.  This is an absolute must read for oddity and history fans.  Please find the link below!!

 

https://www.wired.com/2013/12/hippopotamus-ranching/

IMAGE BY: MARK SUMMERS