San Antonio Zoo hippo euthanized following weekslong treatment

Tumbo treated for illness detected in April, zoo officials say

Tumbo (Photo courtesy of San Antonio Zoo).
Tumbo (Photo courtesy of San Antonio Zoo).

SAN ANTONIO – Tumbo, a Nile hippopotamus at the San Antonio Zoo, had to be euthanized after being treated for an illness that was detected by animal care specialists in early April, zoo officials said.

The zoo said after the 42-year-old hippo began showing uncharacteristic behavior, he was moved to a behind-the-scenes area where he was closely monitored by the zoo's animal care and veterinary staff. After weeks of treatment, however, Tumbo's condition worsened and upon assessment of his quality of life, zoo staff made the decision to euthanize him.

“Tumbo was a much-loved member of our zoo family who inspired and educated millions of visitors over the past 42 years," San Antonio Zoo vice president of animal care Alan Kardon said. "He brought joy to our guests as one of the featured animals in our underwater viewing area of Africa Live."

Zoo officials said Tumbo, who lived well beyond the 26-year median life expectancy of hippos, often interacted with guests and sired 10 offspring over his lifetime.

Tumbo also gained worldwide notoriety after appearing on the cover of National Geographic magazine.

"He was a beloved animal and the staff worked diligently with him over the years to ensure he lived a full and healthy life,” Kardon said.


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