The only hippopotamus in Montenegro escaped from the zoo on Wednesday. So if you took your trip to Podgorica specifically to see the two-ton animal, named Nikica, pack up and go home. Maybe you can catch a train to Greece instead. Whatever you choose to do, just know that the damned hippo isn’t there any more. She broke free from her cage and swam away after seasonal floods reached the zoo.
Davor Mujovic, the zoo’s manager, told Reuters, “She remains at large, but one of the guards is keeping an eye on her and is feeding her daily.” Nikica found a dry spot about a mile from the zoo, which is sufficient for now. Mujovic and the zoo guards are going to wait until the water pulls back more before trying to lure the hippo back to the zoo.
The hippo is already charming the locals, according to the zoo’s owner, Nikola Pejovic. “People like her,” Pejovic said, “villagers are bringing her fresh hay.”
[Photo by marfis75 via Flickr]
Visiting the former home of a famous person is pretty common. Tourists flock to Elvis’ Graceland and who wouldn’t love a look inside the creepy world of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch? But exploring the former compound of a Colombian drug lord….well that seems a little less likely. Yet aparently Pablo Escobar’s Hacienda Napoles, located outside of Bogota, Colombia, is a hit with tourists.
Though Escobar was shot to death sixteen years ago, he lives on in infamy in the country. Tourists who have an affinity for over-the-top tacky “narco-deco” style or who can’t resist a look at Escobar’s lavish estate (which is now owned by the state) can visit the compound for about $10 US. The ranch is considered an “anti-crime museum” and sells replica guns and fake Escobar mustaches.
The compound is being re-purposed as an eco-tourism park, though many of the eccentric features added by Escobar remain. Nearly 30 hippos still wander the property, which includes Jurassico Park – a park featuring life-size models of dinosaurs – plus a go-kart track and private landing strip.
The compound also features horseback riding and hiking trails around the large property, butterfly and bird sanctuaries and a wildlife reserve.
There’s nothing quite like seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat. It’s why people go on safari in South Africa to see lions and elephants, trek through the jungles of Borneo in search of monkeys, and submerge themselves in steel cages off the coast of Baja California to swim with Great White sharks. But it’s important to remember that despite the precautions taken by tour guides and rangers, these are still wild animals and getting close to them in nature carries some risks. In other words: there’s a reason that safari guide carries a gun.
Forbes Traveler has put together a list of “10 Places Where Animals Eat You”, a collection of destinations where the danger of visiting wild animals in nature is greater. Among the spots that made the list are Khao Sok National Park in Thailand, where cobras kill several hundred people per year; South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, where aggressive hippos have been known to flip boats and even eat people; and Ranthambhore Bagh, India, where around 100 people are attacked by tigers each year.
The article goes on to detail other encounters with wild animals, like when the girlfriend of a Tanzanian guide had her sleeping bag dragged 30 yards by a lion, while she was sound asleep in it. It seems animal attacks can happen almost anywhere though, and the danger certainly won’t stop most people from visiting these areas to see wild animals up close. You may just want to think twice about wandering too far away from your guide.