Hippo Encounter at the Gulf Breeze Zoo

Last Sunday I got to do one of the coolest things I’ve done in a long time.

I hung out with a hippopotamus and actually fed him a snack.

My niece wanted to have her birthday party at the Gulf Breeze Zoo and as part of the birthday party package my sister bought we got to have a private encounter with a hippo.

Our group rode the Safari Line train out onto the preserve and were dropped off at the hippo hole where we were met by Megan, the hippo wrangler.

After a short safety briefing we went in and met Kaboko, a Nile Hippopotamus.

He’s 17 years old and even though hippos kill more humans than any other animal on the planet – he looked nice enough to me.

But then he opened his mouth.


He can open his mouth about four feet wide, which according to Megan is much wider than this.

Kaboko knows the drill and kept plopping his face up onto the piling, waiting for snacks.

He’s trained to open his mouth when you make an L with your index finger and thumb and as soon as you do, his mouth pops open, ready for a snack.

We lined up on some steps and were each able to toss him a piece of banana.

And I say toss because you don’t want your hands too close to those giant teeth.

Megan was very engaging and we learned all kinds of interesting things about hippos.

They can run up to 30km an hour on land and they eat about 80 pounds of food a day.

They also secrete “blood sweat” which is a mucus that protects their skin from the sun and works as an insect repellent.

Spending time with Kaboko was such an amazing experience and I am so glad my sister arranged it.

Thank you also to Megan for making our hippo encounter so special.