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South Africa: Solly the hippo, trapped in a swimming pool, dies during rescue

Solly the South African hippo had found sanctuary in a Limpopo game lodge's swimming pool after being forced from his pod by dominant males.
solly the hippo dies 08-24-2012Enlarge
A hippo. But not Solly the hippo. (Markus Heine/AFP/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Solly the hippo, who made headlines after getting stuck in a swimming pool at a South African game lodge, has died during a rescue attempt.

The 4-year-old hippopotamus had been forced from his family pod by more dominant males, and found sanctuary in the pool at the Monate Conservation Lodge, near the town of Modimolle in Limpopo province.

But Solly was unable to get out of the pool, since it had no steps.

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The plan was to sedate the hippo and remove him from the swimming pool with a crane. The pool had to be drained so the hippo wouldn't drown while tranquilized, but Solly became stressed during the process.

Wildlife rescue expert Simon Prinsloo told the Associated Press the hippo died despite water being poured on the animal to keep it cool and hydrated.

South Africa's Eyewitness News said a vet who was tranquilize the hippo arrived nearly four hours late and couldn't save him.

The hippo was named after caregiver Solly Sibuyi, a game warden at the lodge who has been feeding and checking up on the animal.

"Oh, my heart feels sorry for him. I miss him at the dam when I check up on the other hippos," Sibuyi told the South African Press Association.

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The hippo had been "tweeting" @ModimolleHippo since he became stranded in the swimming pool.

But following news of the hippo's death, the account name was changed to "Ghost ModimolleHippo," with the description: "I am the ghost of the late, great Solly. Gone to the big pool-at-the-5-star-game-lodge in the sky."

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