I Kissed Jessica the Hippo! (and I liked it)

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I know, I know… animal tourism is a touchy subject, but I’ve seen Jessica’s adorable face on T.V. and I needed to get my lips on that hippo.

Meet Jessica, the friendliest hippo in South Africa

Hippos are dangerous animals and actually account for the most deaths of any African land animal.  Jessica is different, though.  This adorable lady was found by a couple near Hoedspruit, South Africa after she had been born prematurely during storm.  Weighing only 35lbs (not very much for a newborn hippo) and with no mother in sight, the couple raised this hippo in their home.

Meet Jessica, the friendliest hippo in South Africa

Jessica quickly grew to a regular hippo size, which is far too large for your average human house.  She now lives in the river behind the house and stops by to visit tourists every day for tea and potatoes, and occasionally to sleep in the garage.  She also apparently scares away crocs so her human mom can swim.  South Africa’s a wild place.

The unique thing about Jessica the Hippo that sets her apart from similar animal attractions is that she can come and go as she pleases.   There are no cages or circus tricks.  Jessica spends most of her day out doing hippo stuff with other hippos, and then like any self respecting woman, come around when she knows people will put potatoes in her mouth.  We can all relate.

Meet Jessica, the friendliest hippo in South Africa

I arrived to visit Jessica just before noon (during her regular visiting hours)  for about 75 Rand ($5 usd)

After a short video and Q&A with Jessica’s adopted parents, its time for the main event.  Visiting hours are limited to encourage her to have as much time to be a regular hippo as possible, but she comes eagerly and hops right up on the dock for cuddles.  Jessica does seem to genuinely enjoy the attention.

Meet Jessica, the friendliest hippo in South Africa

My group was only about 5 people who all took turns feeding Jessica potatoes, giving her weak tea out of a bottle, and posing for pictures.  Jessica allowed us to pet her nose, which is a pretty unique experience, but only the women are allowed to kiss her.  Apparently she doesn’t like it when men kiss her.  I feel like there is more of a story there than I got, but the world may never know.  We all probably would have heard about it if it were fatal right?

I Kissed Jessica the Hippo and i liked it! - Mags on the Move

Visiting Jessica is an incredible experience.  I mean, how often do you get up close and personal with such an incredible creature?  I found it irresistible, and had a great time, but it did leave me with mixed feelings.  At the end of the day, Jessica is still a wild hippo and that seems like an accident waiting to happen.  Many have speculated what could happen if Jess gets pregnant and her “mamma hippo” instincts take over.

Jessica the worlds friendliest hippo will gladly trade snuggles for a mouthful of potatoes.

Some day Jessica might snap and maul everyone, but today was not that day!  I’ve always been a risk taker and this one was totally worth it (especially for $5).  I mean, look at that face!

Meet Jessica, the friendliest hippo in South Africa









19 thoughts on “I Kissed Jessica the Hippo! (and I liked it)

  1. It sounds like Jessica is quite the lady! I think that she has a great situation of freedom with accepting a safe and food providing environment. Sounds like pretty good setup for a hungry hippo.

  2. What an amazing experience. I understand your mixed feelings, but mother nature really is something special. When you get to interact with a truly wild animal like that it’s very special. I hope that she stays well and protected for the rest of her life.

  3. LOVE the tille of your post and wow, I am in shock and that is just so cool. No one ever gets to have such an experience with a hippo. She is to adorable, But you are right in saying it is like an accident waiting to happen…hopefully not.

  4. Omg! This is amazing. What an incredible experience. Love your photos!

  5. Love her!! Hippos are my favorite animals of all so I’m extremely jealous of this one. Are you friends with Cory? Isn’t’ this the hippo he had the encounter with?

  6. I’ve never heard of Jessica the hippo and this now my number 1 must-see! I adore hippos. I haven’t yet seen one in person. What an incredible and unique experience to interact with (and kiss!) a wild hippo. It does seem like an accident waiting to happen, but I’m also so glad to see that she is able to come and go as she pleases.

  7. wow! This is a once in a life time experience! The Hippo’s look lazy but never thought they are gentle and let humans get close to them!

  8. Whoa! Kissing a hippo! Incredible! I have seen kissing dolphins in shows but this is a first.
    Did you notice they have pink colored sweat?

  9. Jessica really does get the best of both worlds doesn’t she – freedom to roam but also ALL THE FOOD! I can completely understand your mixed feelings though.. it would be so easy for something to go wrong one day. Let’s just hope that day never comes!

  10. Fantastic!! It’s great that Jessica was saved from certain death, and now is kind of like a ‘half-way’ hippo who bridges the gap between wild and completely domesticated! It’s so great that her ‘owners’ – maybe a better word is ‘carers’? – don’t allow too many people at the one time. But I’d LOVE to know why she doesn’t like being kissed by men, haha!

  11. Megan Jerrard

    Sounds like quite the incredible experience – I wasn’t sure how I was going to react when I read this post (from the title), because as you’ve said, animal tourism is a tricky subject, but I love that they’ve taken Jessica in and raised her otherwise she may have not survived. And it warms my heart to know that she can come and go as she pleases.

    As much as her conditions sound wonderful, I’m still wary because as you’ve said, hippos are such dangerous creatures! But Having been raised by humans, I’m sure they know what they’re doing and it looks pretty safe. Cool experience!

  12. Jessica’s story is amazing…and it’s so nice that she comes everyday to meet and greet travelers. I would have hated a zoo or circus like place, but this is different and nice – lots of love to her 🙂

  13. Jessica is cute but I think she prefers gal pals. I remember she tried to eat Cory Lee’s wheelchair!

  14. She is so adorable! I love her already! I was actually surprised at the title because I know hippos are dangerous. But then, nothing is impossible in this world. It always has its surprises and wonders!

  15. Okay, well this is just adorable. I cringed a little at first, thinking this was just a zoo’s unethical idea of a way to make a buck. But Jessica’s story is sweet and different. It comes from a place of love. I would 100% smooch that hippo! In fact it’s on my list now!

  16. Candiss

    You are right animal tourism is tricky but visiting this lovely lady sounds like the best of both worlds. She lives her life but is still grateful to her adoptee family <3.

  17. There is a line with animal tourism and since they only have one friendly hippo, I don’t think this is wrong. They saved her life and at that point, re-introducing her to the wild would be hard. I am glad she is well cared for.

  18. I have always heard hippos are really dangerous. She seems sweet since you got to pucker up. This is too cute.

  19. I mean, how often do you get up close and personal with such an incredible creature? I —I’ve always been told to stay away from Hippos. I’ve never expereinced this though but I would love to. I agree with you though, feels like an accident waiting to happen.

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