Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hippe (Potamus) the Hippo-Head

It is really a no-brainer when a hippo-lover meets a ceramic sculpture artist that the conversation will move to hippos at some point. But it was unbelievable that the artist said: “Oh, I made a hippo head, some time ago!” It turned out that this lovely lady had the idea to make this sculpture, before she got to know me…. What are the chances? After seeing “the head” at one of her exhibitions, I decided that my collection would not be complete without it. With my birthday coming up, my dear husband got the hint (subtle, as always… ha ha), so since 2010, I am the proud owner of a with bronze casted hippo head (Hippe Potamus, Anneke, 2006). It has a prominent place, next to our front door, on a small cabinet. A few weeks ago, a friend came to our house, and she said: “I was not sure whether this was the right apartment, but then I saw the hippo, and I knew it had to be!” Thank you Hans, for climbing over our front gate (courtesy of our very burglar-friendly security guards…) that day! Anneke, I am still missing our trips to the flower market and Zoo, not to mention the nougat, snert and haring, but I see Hippe every day, so no chance I’ll ever forget you!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas!

To be honest, I did not know this song. It turned out to be the american equivalent of the dutch song "Flappie" in the 1950s. It came up, during one of my anything-to-do-with-hippos-on-Youtube-searches. And of course Wikipedia already knew it...., telling me that Gayla Peevey made this song famous in 1953, recording it when she was 10 years old. A local promoter used the popularity of the song to launch a campaign "Buy a hippo for Gayla". He raised 3000 USD and bought an actual baby hippopotamus called Matilda, which Gayla donated to the Oklahoma City Zoo. Matilda lived for nearly 50 years. The song is written by John Rox (1902 - 1957). I can't think of anything to says it all ;-).... Enjoy! Hippo Christmas and Happy New Year!

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
Don't want a doll, no dinky Tinker Toy
I want a hippopotamus to play with and enjoy

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
I don't think Santa Claus will mind, do you?
He won't have to use our dirty chimney flue
Just bring him through the front door,
that's the easy thing to do

I can see me now on Christmas morning,
creeping down the stairs
Oh what joy and what surprise
when I open up my eyes
to see a hippo hero standing there

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses
I only like hippopotamuses
And hippopotamuses like me too

Mom says the hippo would eat me up, but then
Teacher says a hippo is a vegeterian

There's lots of room for him in our two-car garage
I'd feed him there and wash him there and give him his massage

I can see me now on Christmas morning,
creeping down the stairs
Oh what joy and what surprise
when I open up my eyes
to see a hippo hero standing there

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles or rhinoceroseses
I only like hippopotamuseses
And hippopotamuses like me too!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Kiboko is the only hippo in my collection, made especially for me. My dear friends went on home leave to Tanzania, besides the stress of picking up their passports in time, they also went in circles to get their special orders: a hippo statue and a hippo painting, to bring back for me, now how great is that?! I named it after the Tanzanian word for hippo.  Kiboko means whip in Kiswahili, because in the old days, people used to make whips of hippo skin. Those whips were being used to herd cattle and other livestock…. or to punish slaves…  I still remember my first conversation with my friend about hippos. She told me that she did not like them (like most people in Africa, because they are so dangerous, and kill more people than lions or crocodiles), casually adding that her tribe does not eat hippo meat and that she could hear them snoring during the night, back in her home town. Kiboko is made of ebony, a very dense black wood, very difficult to carve… a lot of work for the craftsman…. but the result: a beauty! Didi, hippo birthday today!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fancy Nancy

She is not my first hippo-soft-toy or the most famous one, but she is one of a few I got as a present. And following the tradition, she is named after the person who gave it to me. Fancy, would give the wrong impression about my dear friend, but I thought it would be perfect for the toy. How else would you describe a hippo-ballerina, wearing a pink, glitter-tutu and a matching bow? I still remember when she told me, almost apologizing: “It looked so cute, so I had to buy it!” I would never be the one to disagree…  The toy also reminds me of the Fantasia film of Walt Disney… ballerina-hippos dancing with crocodiles, my favorite part, of course. Fancy Nancy is sitting next to my computer, the first to see the hippo-posts. Still there, I have to add….. surviving many confiscation-attempts (especially by our youngest daughter, making a necklace, putting it on the hippo and then claiming it is hers….. imagine!). Nance, I miss those nice afternoons, girls jumping in the pool, coffee and snacks, BBQs and a lot of laughs. For now, the fancy-version of you will have to do.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hippo Mucho

Let us start with a free-association-exercise! I say "Pablo Escobar"! And you immediately think….. drug lord, cocaine, Colombia….. Medellín Cartel? Well done! Still missing something essential.... (for some people, obviously). You guessed it: Hippos! A few weeks ago, a friend (who also got one hippo named after her) asked me whether I knew about the hippos of Pablo Escobar? Excuse me? Immediately, I went on the net and within 0.24 seconds, I got 28,400 hits (I am probably the last hippo-enthusiast on the planet, to find out about them…). A recap: Mr. Escobar had a small Zoo.  After his assassination (December 2, 1993) most of the other animals were captured… except for his 4 hippos, being clever enough to stay in the middle of their pond (I can imagine the scene... tough guys, being told to capture the animals.... looking at those 4 units in the pond... "how are we going to.....  definately not going into the water..... Oh... whatever.... forget it"). The electricity was cut off, not only to the ranch and all the security installations around the “Hacienda Nápoles” but also to the fence, that kept the hippos in their enclosure. Since 1993, these hippos have not only been busy multiplying (there are around 20.... They think…) but also with exploring and getting themselves into trouble, and even being shot at and killed (July 11, 2009).  And it is only going to get worse….. How do you explain that those: all-crops-eating, everything-demolishing, aggressive creatures, are just abandoned pets? I will check on them once in a while, and keep you posted on those wild hippos that are not only in the wrong place but safe to say: on the wrong continent.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Smelly Harry

The remark: "I saw a hippo, and I had to think about you" will not be appreciated by everybody, but for those suffering from hippo-mania, it really sounds very sweet. I am sure this can be used as an indicator, determining the severity of a case. The scale varying from: "I feel depressed and need to go on a diet", to: "thank you, please tell me more!" No need to guess my score...... and I even consider myself very lucky, to hear it quite often. When friends see hippos in the Zoo, on TV, on the internet or in the newspaper, they let me know.  Only when they travel to Africa they give up reporting every single time they see one..... There are just too many! They just mention that they have to think about me all the time (while trying not to sound too tired of that...). A few weeks ago, dear friends were staying at the Mukambi resort, Kafue National Park in Zambia. When they came back from a field trip, this wild hippo was laying in the middle of the restaurant of this resort, taking an afternoon nap. They took a lot of pictures and most importantly: the first photos of their son with a wild hippo! According to the eye witness report, the hippo smelled very, very badly. After a few hours it moved on, crashing through the wooden floor on its way out. The proper way to exit: hippo-style, I would say! Thank you guys, for sharing the pictures and a great story.

Photograph by Mr. Gerard Cornelissen

Friday, November 18, 2011

The First

Every collection has its: first!  And “The First” of Lien’s Hippo Collection is a miniature-hippo (first painting, mug, soft toy, t-shirt, chair and what not….. all those will follow in future posts) named after the person who gave it to me: Tante (aunt) Anneke. Of some hippos in my collection, at some point I forgot who gave them to me, or where I found them, but I will never forget this Christmas present. I would have forgotten on which Christmas exactly I got it though, for sure. The fact that I wrote the date on it makes it possible to celebrate on the 26th of December of this year (2011): 20 years of hippo-affection! Some friends prefer to call it: hippo-obsession or even hippo-madness… they make it sound more like a disease than a hobby….. Well, it can be a bit contagious, I must say. Some friends complained: “I do not collect them, but everywhere I go I find myself looking for them…. “. My auntie only complained about the fact that hippos were not so easy to find. When she did find one, she was always excited. She would call me and just say: “Lien, I found one!”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Moustache Mummy

The very first post has to be about the profile photo. Let me introduce you to: Dania. She lives in the Ragunan Zoo, Jakarta, Indonesia, together with daddy Jacky, sons Reno and Semar and daughter Donna. As I have become friends with their keepers, I have had the privilege to be allowed in parts of their enclosure which are normally off limits for visitors. It has always been so special to be able to touch them and help feed them (they love sweet potatoes) and make millions of photo's. Unfortunately I do not live so close to them anymore, but this summer I had the chance to visit them during a short holiday. For the first time, I could even step into the cage and come close to the edge of the water. The keeper asked Dania to open her mouth, which she always happily does, and I could take this great photo of her. Although I was a bit scared, and hurried back behind the steel fence as soon as I could, I will never forget that moment. If you are in Jakarta, and you have the chance to go to the Zoo, don't forget to pay this hippo-family a visit!