Pymgy hippo celebrates big birthday in Ramona

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Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 2 38 20 PMRAMONA — The oldest pygmy hippo in the country celebrated her 40th birthday in Ramona on Friday.

“Today’s a super special day,” said Ali Crumpacker, Director of Fund for Animals Wildlife Center.

The hippo, named Hannah Shirley after the donor who funded her space at the refuge, celebrated by eating an arrangement of fruits and veggies as well as a watermelon.  She also got a large hot pink soccer ball.

“She’s pretty full of character,” said Crumpacker. “She likes to romp and run.”

Hannah Shirley came to the center 11 years ago after she was discovered living in a backyard in Escondido as an illegal pet.

“Pygmy hippos are an endangered species so it’s not something you would commonly find in someone’s backyard, and she wasn’t in the best living conditions at that time,” said Crumpacker.

Pygmy hippos are solitary animals but she has a couple of friends at the center.

“She has two best friends, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard,” said Crumpacker. “They’re ducks that live here. She lets them swim in her pool with her and eat out of her food dish.”

Local school kids colored pictures of Hannah Shirley which were displayed at the center.  She didn’t seem to mind the attention.

“She’s oldest in the country so every year we’ll probably have to do a celebration,” said Crumpacker.

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