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Manila Zoo’s oldest resident dies at 65

by Jaime Rose A. Aberia

A hippopotamus named “Bertha” – the oldest inhabitant of the Manila Zoo – died last Friday at the age of 65.

Director James Albert Dichaves of the Manila Parks and Recreations Bureau which oversees the zoo on Adriatico St., Malate, Manila, said zookeepers found Bertha lifeless last Friday.

HippoAn autopsy conducted on that day found out that she was not suffering from any disease and considered old age as the reason of her death.

Dichaves said Bertha who had been at the Manila Zoo since it opened in 1959 has exceeded the average lifespan of a hippo of 40 to 50 years.

Before she died, Dichaves said Bertha’s caretaker noticed that she moved slower than usual.

Bertha was buried in a vacant lot at the zoo. Dichaves said they waiting for her body to decompose to enable them to get and preserve her bones.

The zoo has asked Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to purchase a new hippo and other new animals.

The other hippo which held the record for longevity – “Donna” of the Mesker Zoo and Botanic Garden in Indiana – was 61 when she was humanely euthanized in August 2012.

Jerry Young, vice president of Animal Welfare and Operations of the Manila Zoo, said, “Bertha was around to greet the first guests of Manila Zoo when they opened to the public in July 25, 1959.”

None of her offspring with her mate Bert, who died in 2008, survived.

Bertha is featured in the latest issue of Animal Scene Magazine. (with a report from Jeffrey C. Lim)