South African hippo trapped in pool dies in rescue

JOHANNESBURG Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:10am EDT

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A hippo named Solly trapped for three days in a swimming pool at a South African game lodge died on Friday in a failed rescue attempt broadcast on nationwide TV.

Solly, thought to be about five years old, slipped into the pool after being shunned by its pod in Limpopo province, about 160 kms (100 miles) north of Johannesburg. Its legs were not long enough to climb out of the pool.

The rescue team tried to drain the pool, sedate Solly and lift him out with a crane but he died in the operation. Authorities have yet to determine the cause of death.

Video of Solly popping his head out of the brown water in the pool over the past two days became a staple of TV news bulletins, making the animal an instant national celebrity.

TV news channels also broadcast images of the dead hippopotamus being hoisted out of the pool with a member of the rescue team standing on the carcass.

"It started out as a happy story and now it's a tragic story. It's devastating," Ruby Ferreira, manager of the Monate Conservation Lodge, where the hippo slipped into the pool, told the SAPA news agency.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)

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