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Raja, a hippopotamus and the oldest member of the Assam zoo paases away

Raja, 48, died on Sunday. The hippopotamus is one of the largest living land mammals and falls under the “vulnerable” status.

  • Published 19.11.18, 12:43 AM
  • Updated 19.11.18, 12:43 AM
  • a min read
Zoo staff pay their last respects to Raja, the hippopotamus, in Guwahati on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos

After Rani, Raja the hippopotamus also left the Assam State Zoo.

The zoo authorities on Sunday bade a tearful adieu to Raja who was the oldest inmate of the zoo.

Hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius) is one of the largest living land mammals.

The name “hippopotamus” comes from two Greek words meaning river horse. Its status is “vulnerable”.

Raja and Rani were bought from the US at Rs 45,000 each and arrived at the zoo on December 27, 1974. Both were a year-and-a-half-month old at the time.

Raja was 48. Rani died in 2014.

“Among the mammals he was the oldest inmate. There may be turtles older than him, but they cannot be identified individually. So he was our oldest member,” divisional forest officer of Assam State Zoo Tejas Mariswamy said.

Raja died at 4.30am on Sunday due to old age. Normally hippos live up to 45 years.

“Yesterday, he just sat in a pit outside the water. He was not moving and was looking at us. It was an emotional moment,” Mariswamy said.

“Many of the zookeepers who worked for a long time have seen him. They called me on Saturday and said Raja was not moving at all,” Mariswamy told this correspondent.

Raja had nine siblings, of which five are in the zoo. Two have been shifted to other zoos under an exchange programme and two have died.

The zoo has around 1,100 inmates now.