It all started in November 1928 when Huberta the Hippopotamus decided to leave her home in St. Lucia, Zululand, one of South Africa's nine provinces, and set off on a long journey. For the next 3 years she travelled 1600 km by road, crossing South Africa.

She crossed roads, railways, took it through gardens, fields and golf courses. She also visited a couple of towns and in Durban she made it to the door of the local pharmacy. She fell asleep on bridges and railway lines. A trip to the candy store was like a trip to the sugar cane fields, for she loved that. She soon became the darling of the nation and received a lot of press attention. At first she was named Hubert, before it was discovered that she was actually a hippo lady, which occured only after her death. Cars stopped and trains slowed and passengers often threw Hubert tasty fruit. She became famous. The Johannesburg Zoo was interested in Huberta and tried to capture her. They sent specialists after her, including a team of cameramen. But Huberta didn't give them a chance. She became a national heroine.

Sadly, in April 1931, her heroic life came to an end. How else but by a stupid "human hand". She was shot by three hunters while she was swimming peacefully in the river. Sadness and anger swept the nation, the hunters were arrested and fined heavily.

Huberta is still a proud exhibit in the Kings William Town Museum.

If you decide to spend a few nights in the Indian Ocean town of St. Lucia, chances are you'll see some of Huberta's descendants strolling down Main Street in the evening. Tradition has to be followed after all, even hippos know that here in South Africa 😊.

Zuzana, your guide through South Africa