"We have people saying 'I hope the baby dies. Why don't they just feed the baby to the hippo?'"
A Texas zoo has defended a couple who used one of its hippos for their baby gender reveal.
Jonathan and Bridgette Joseph came under fire over the weekend when a video of them feeding the animal a watermelon to reveal its blue insides went viral on social media.
Twitter users slammed the couple for tricking the Nile hippo into eating "10 pounds of food dye", claiming they were putting his health at risk for their own amusement.
But the Capital of Texas Zoo director Michael Hicks said he, the zoo, and even Tank the hippo were all in on it — and all okay with it.
He said the blue that spilled out of the watermellon was in fact Jell-O, which is one of Tank's favorite snacks.
I did it. I found the worst gender reveal. pic.twitter.com/37b5GkrTbN— Ana Bretón (@missbreton) September 21, 2019
"This is the same Jell-O people feed their kids. It's totally harmless," Hicks told the New York Post, adding he was stunned by the level of vitriol online.
"There were people saying, 'Oh I hope the hippo is okay,'" he said. "We have people saying 'I hope the baby dies. Why don't they just feed the baby to the hippo?'"
In the clip, Jonathan holds the fruit aloft and Tank opens his enormous mouth in anticipation. Jonathan lobs it in and Tank obligingly obliterates it in one bite, the blue jello gushing out as the delighted couple jump with glee as they discover they are having a boy.
With their massive canines, surprising top speed of 30kmph, and unpredictable and aggressive behavior, wild hippopotamus are among the deadliest mammals in the world and kill hundreds of humans every year.
As Hick pointed out, if Tank didn't want to participate in the gender reveal, he simply wouldn't have.
"You can't make a hippo do anything. He weighs 4,000 pounds," he said. "He enjoyed it as much as anybody else did."
Indeed TV producer Ana Breton, who helped the video go viral on Twitter when she described it as "the worst gender reveal", said she subsequently got in touch with the expectant mother who assured her all was well.
"For anyone that is concerned for the hippos and his well-being, he has been hand raised by his amazing owner, who assisted us in feeding him the only food that is safe for him to consume... organic Jell-O inside the watermelon... and yes, Tank was more than happy to have the treat," she said. "He walked right to us and opened his mouth."
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