Hans the Hippo

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Dave55, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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    Hans the hippo (or Gans in Russian) was born in the late 1920s. He lived in the zoo of the town of Königsberg (which was renamed to Kaliningrad in 1946), then part of Germany, and was originally called Rosa.
    After the town was captured in April 1945 Soviet soldiers found just four animals in local zoo: a fallow deer, a donkey, a badger and a hippopotamus. The last was in an especially bad state because he had received seven stray bullets during the battle. He was found in a narrow ditch at the edge of the zoo in a pitiful condition, he reputedly hadn’t eaten nor drunk for 13 days!
    Zootechnician Vladimir Petrovich Polonsky was put in charge of the miserable German hippo on April 14. His report about performed work was preserved in the archives as “The History of Treatment of the Hippopotamus” and inside we can read what peculiar methods he used to cure the animal.
    The report starts with: “Patient - hippopotamus, 18 years old. Stature - big. Name - Hans. Hurt seven times, twice by himself. 13 days without food and water.”
    Polonsky immediately provided Hans with water, later tried milk and grated beet. The hippo began to eat but refused the food three days later. The keeper didn’t hesitate and gave him four litres of vodka. The animal then reputedly displayed strong desire for food. But at first he got enema - four buckets of destilled water - then Polonsky started to feed him. The hippo attempted to climb out of the ditch but as he was drunk he fell over and caused himself two more wounds. The more grave one was on his side, measured 25 x 27 cm and was 4 cm deep. Nevertheless, the hippo began to eat again but wasn’t recovering. So he got enema twice and was becoming a bit better.
    Two weeks had passed and the animal didn’t want to eat once more. The keeper applied his vodka cure. The hippo began to take food but got constipation for a change. Polonsky gave him one more enema and later vodka. And Hans started to eat, even though there were days when he lacked appetite. “I was changing the diet to get over them,” writes Polonsky.
    The hippo was saved. The keeper didn’t move away from him at all for three weeks and after a month and nineteen days the patient was fully cured. “I reached his full health and now I’m occupying myself with his training - for example riding the hippo round the zoo,” reports Polonsky.
    He evidently took a fancy to his patient and cared about his future. On July 24, 1945, he wrote a letter to the director of Moscow Zoo with a request on transferring “swiller” Hans as well as the other animals. “The animals won’t deal with local conditions, especially during winter. Hence I’m asking you to pay attention to it immediately.”
    His worries proved unfounded. Yet on June 27, 1947, Kaliningrad Zoo celebrated its re-opening for public. At that time its collection already consisted of 50 animals, including Hans the hippo who recovered from the bad experience and lived happily in the zoo for the next thirty years…
    Dave55 likes this.

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