Friday, August 24, 2012

Old Tubman Farm in Totota

Pygmy Hippo at Tubman Farm Zoo
When Tubman was President of Liberia he had a really cool zoo near his house in Totota.  It was known as the Tubman Farm and was my first recollection of a live elephant.  I remember being fascinated by the baby elephant's wiggling ears.  The zoo no longer houses any animals at the moment, but these pictures are here to remind past visitors and introduce those who have never visited this fascinating place.

Elephant skull near a sign of the Zones of Tubman Farm Zoo in Totota, Liberia

The Author fascinated by the wiggling ears of a baby elephant - awwww!

Pygmy hippos eating at Tubman Farm Zoo
I also want to say a few things about the Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis).  You'll notice by the Latin liberiensis that this is an animal that is somehow connected to Liberia.  The reason is that, except for a few sightings in neighboring countries, the Pygmy Hippo is only found in Liberia and is very rare outside of captivity (<3,000 specimens in the wild).  It is known as a 'Water Cow' by Liberians and wasn't even thought to exist by Westerners until late in the 1800's.  

Huge Turtles at Tubman Farm Zoo

Author and bro chill-axing at the Tubman Farm Zoo

Elephant Man of Tubman Farm Zoo - yikes!

Pygmy Hippos swimming at Tubman Farm Zoo
If a Pygmy Hippo is ever seen it is almost always seen in captivity.  There are several in US zoos today.  One of the first Pygmy Hippos in the US was brought by Harvey Firestone (of Firestone tire fame) and given to president Calvin Coolidge as a pet.  He was known as William Johnson Hippopotamus or Billy for short.  President Coolidge later donated him to the National Zoo in Washington, DC.  Most Pygmy Hippos in the US are suspected to be descended from this hippo.  I found an interested article about the the National Zoo which had some years later ran into a predicament in that they only had two females left and needed a bull.  A male Pygmy was then gifted by Tubman from this zoo during the Eisenhower's years.   The name of this hippo?  --- Totota!

Ostrich at Tubman Farm Zoo - These things scared me! But in my defense I was only 4.

Cool looking monkey at Tubman Farm Zoo in Totota, Liberia
- if you know what kind of monkey it is please comment!

Today pygmy hippos are found in many zoos, but unfortunately their natural habitat in Liberia continues to be endangered.  I've included a video link below to a baby pygmy hippo born in captivity in Australia and also one of the extremely rare hippos in the wild in the Sapo region of Liberia.  These pygmies are nocturnal so it is a night time picture of a hippo trotting through the Liberian bush.  Hopefully these rare and beautiful animals will once again thrive in Liberia.

Pygmy Hippopotamus at the Tubman Farm Zoo in Totota, Liberia c. 1977

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