Jessica the Hippo: A Remarkable Tale of Friendship.

Jessica the Hippo in Hoedspruit

Who is Jessica?

Have you ever heard of Jessica? She’s not your average hippo living in the South African wilderness. Jessica is a 23-year-old female hippopotamus who lives near Hoedspruit. But what makes her so special is her incredible bond with humans, which is not something you see every day in the wild.

Jessica’s Love for Rooibos Tea.

One of Jessica’s most famous quirks is her love for rooibos tea. Can you believe it? This gentle giant of the riverbanks has developed a taste for this South African herbal tea, and it has become one of her signature traits.

Jessica the Hippo in Hoedspruit

A Heartwarming Story.

Jessica’s story is both heartwarming and remarkable. When she was just a tiny and exhausted hippo calf, weighing only 16 kg, she was discovered by the Joubert family. They took her in and gave her all the care and love she needed to grow. With time, Jessica became a part of their family.

A Wild Adventure.

As Jessica grew bigger, her caregivers knew it was time for her to return to the wild. They introduced her to the nearby river, where she could mingle with other hippos in her natural habitat. But no matter how far she ventured, Jessica would always find her way back to the Joubert family home.

Jessica the Hippo in Hoedspruit

A Global Phenomenon.

What started as an act of compassionate conservation turned into a loving relationship that captured the hearts of people worldwide. Jessica became a global phenomenon, appearing in National Geographic documentaries, on SKY News, the Discovery Channel, and Animal Planet. She even had a role in a South African comedy film called Mr. Bones.

Jessica’s Appearance and Personality.

Jessica has a barrel-shaped torso, nearly hairless skin, and short legs, just like any other hippo. Despite her size and impressive teeth, she is known for her gentle disposition and is unlikely to bite. She loves roaming the farm and swimming in the river with her hippo companions.

Jessica the Hippo in Hoedspruit

A Charming Hostess.

When Jessica returns home, she becomes quite the hostess, eager to show off her charming personality to guests. She enjoys listening to classical music, getting an aromatherapy body massage before bedtime, and nibbling on treats. While hippos are usually herbivores, Jessica sometimes displays omnivorous behavior. Her diet includes grass, fruit, leaves, and aquatic plants.

A Diverse Palate.

Jessica has a diverse palate and enjoys eating sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, and bread. Guests often have fun feeding her treats while she relaxes in the river. And guess what her favorite drink is? Rooibos tea! She drinks about 20 liters of warm rooibos tea every day, preferably with a touch of brown sugar. Sharing a cup of tea with a hippo is quite an experience!

Jessica the Hippo in Hoedspruit

A Celebrity Hippo.

Jessica’s fame goes beyond our visit. She has hosted some famous guests, including former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey. These important figures, like many others, were captivated by Jessica’s story and the incredible bond she shares with humans. She has become a beloved symbol of the remarkable connections that can form between people and the extraordinary wildlife of South Africa.

A Heartfelt Loss.

Jessica had a deep bond with her caretaker, Shirley. They were inseparable, swimming together in the river and enjoying soothing massages at night. Sadly, Shirley passed away peacefully in her sleep in March 2023. Jessica’s reaction to this loss was heartbreaking. She snorted and bumped into the door, showing that she felt Shirley’s absence.

Jessica the Hippo in Hoedspruit

An Unforgettable Encounter.

Our visit to Jessica’s sanctuary was truly unforgettable. We had the privilege of interacting with this extraordinary creature. Jessica’s story shows us the power of compassion and the unique connections that can form between humans and the wild inhabitants of the African wilderness. It was a day filled with wonder, warmth, and a touch of rooibos tea, leaving us with cherished memories of our encounter with the remarkable Jessica the hippo.

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