Hippos make a splash, returning to South Australia at Monarto Safari Park

Monarto Safari Park has become the proud new home to two remarkable Nile Hippopotamuses, Brindabella and Pansy.

In a momentous event for wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists alike, Monarto Safari Park has become the proud new home to two remarkable Nile Hippopotamuses, Brindabella and Pansy. This arrival marks a significant addition to the park’s diverse species, as hippos are recognised as the third largest land mammal globally.

The journey of Brindabella and Pansy from Werribee Open Range Zoo to Monarto Safari Park was nothing short of extraordinary. Covering an eight-hour road trip, these majestic creatures were transported in custom-built hippo crates. To ensure their comfort and safety, extensive crate training was conducted beforehand, familiarising them with their temporary travel abodes.

Jon Allon, Monarto Safari Park’s Assistant Curator of Carnivores and Ungulates, emphasised the unique needs of hippos, particularly their reliance on water. “Hippos have a unique skin and being out of the water for too long can lead to dehydration,” he explained. To mitigate this, the hippos traveled at night in cooler conditions, aided by cooling systems and a spray tank to maintain their skin’s moisture.

Upon arrival, Brindabella and Pansy were introduced to their new habitat, one of Australia’s largest specifically designed for Nile Hippopotamuses. Peter Clark, the Director of Monarto Safari Park, who spearheaded the habitat’s design, shared his enthusiasm: “The huge central waterhole in their habitat features gradual slopes and a variety of depths which should be perfect for the hippos. It also has a sandy beach where we’re looking forward to seeing them soak up some sun.”

The hippos’ arrival is not just a new chapter for Monarto Safari Park but also a continuation of a historical legacy. Hippos have been a part of Zoos SA’s history for 120 years, with Brindabella and Pansy being the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Brutus and Susie, beloved hippos who resided at Adelaide Zoo for over 45 years.

Their new residence is situated in the park’s Wild Africa precinct, offering a unique experience for visitors. “It is going to be spectacular for Wild Africa guests staying in the hotel to see them emerge from the water in late afternoons to graze,” Peter Clark remarked. Currently in quarantine, the park is developing exciting experiences for visitors to observe these magnificent animals.

The significance of their presence extends beyond visitor attraction. The Nile Hippopotamus is listed as vulnerable to extinction, with habitat loss and illegal hunting being primary threats. Their population is estimated to be between 115,000 and 130,000. Peter Clark highlighted the importance of their arrival: “It is exciting to see these magnificent animals at the park, and it enables us to increase awareness about the threats to hippos and educate the public on how they can support hippo conservation.”

As a conservation charity, Zoos SA’s hippo project was realised through the generous donations of ‘hippo heroes’. The upcoming Resort hotel, overlooking the hippo habitat, is set to open in the second quarter of 2024, further enhancing the experience of observing these incredible creatures in a naturalistic setting.

Brindabella, born on December 9, 1990, weighs 1584kg and is known for her strong-willed, independent nature. She has developed a trusting relationship with her keepers, crucial for proactive healthcare. Brindabella was born at Werribee Open Range Zoo in 1990 and is an incredible mother to Pansy, who was also born at Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2013. Pansy is a cheeky and attention-loving hippo, showing growing independence and confidence. Pansy was named by Australian philanthropist Lady Primrose Potter.

Find out more about Monarto Safari Park at

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