Guys, it finally is happening! We got a hippopotamus for Christmas! And not just any hippopotamus, a rare, striking, and totally on-trend hot-pink hippo, at that!
According to the New York Post, the unusual animal was spotted by a French couple on holiday in the Masai Mara National reserve in Kenya. Experts believe the flamingo-like color of the adult hippo is likely due to a rare condition called leucism, which disrupts normal pigmentation and prevents the typical grey color from developing.
Leucism is a health concern for animals, because it allows skin to burn easier- no joke under the Kenyan sun. Animals with leucistic skin can also have problems simply because they stand out from the herd, making them more vulnerable to predators. Hippos, of course, have a pretty fearsome reputation as dangerous animals (no matter how huggable they look) and this big pink guy seems to have survived the most vulnerable juvenile stages of life. Even more amazingly, MysteriousUniverse reports that this might not be the first time the hippo has been spotted.
In 2010, brothers Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas caught this gosh-darn adorable baby hippo wallowing about, seemingly quite pleased with his vivid coloration, in the same river where the new photos were taken. Is it possible their pics show a baby version of our new full-sized hippo pal?
In the United Kingdom, the photos of the full-grown hippo (no one has named him yet, so we’re calling him Pegasus from here on out, ok?) have caused quite a stir. The Mirror reports that the hippo is a pleasant reminder for many Brits of a famed pink hippo puppet named George from a beloved children’s show, Rainbow. The show ran from the early 70s to the 90s, so it’s a safe bet that thousands of British citizens might get a little misty when they see real-life George (we’re sticking with Pegasus, though.)
(Images by Laurent and Dominique Renaud, Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas, via Twitter)