Popular Hippo in Tokyo Zoo Is Latest Quake Victim

PHOTO: A 39-year-old hippopotamus named Satsuki at Tokyos Ueno Zoological Gardens has died of arthritis after twisting her legs under the stress of the last months Great East Japan Earthquake, zoo officials have announced.Ueno Zoological Gardens
A 39-year-old hippopotamus named Satsuki at Tokyo's Ueno Zoological Gardens has died of arthritis after twisting her legs under the stress of the last month's Great East Japan Earthquake, zoo officials have announced.

Japan's monster earthquake has claimed its latest victim, a popular hippo named Satsuki at the Tokyo zoo.

The 39-year-old animal, who became a popular attraction after appearing in a tooth brushing event, has been hobbled with injuries since the magnitude 9 quake struck last month, zoo officials said. She died last Saturday.

Keepers at the Ueno Zoo said Satsuki was in a pool when the tremblor hit on March 11 and did not suffer any injuries. However, the hippo lost her balance and twisted her left front leg as she walked back to her cage an hour after the shaking stopped. Officials believe the shock and stress from the record setting jolt may rattled and disoriented the animal.

Veterinarians treated Satsuki's sprained leg, but the animal re-injured it in separate falls, making it nearly impossible for the 5,000 pound animal to support her own weight. Officials said the chronic pain and lack of movement caused her vital functions to shut down.

Quake Injury Doomed Tokyo Zoo Hippo

Satsuki's death has created a big void at the Ueno Zoo. She died just as it was getting ready to open a special hippo exhibition next month to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of hippopatumus at the Tokyo zoo.

Satsuki was sired by a hippo named Dekao and a mother Nagoya in May 1971. While most hippos are born underwater, Satsuki was delivered on the ground. She eventually gave birth to six calves. Only one of her offspring remains alive, and is housed at the zoo in Okinawa.

Hippos average a lifespan of 40 to 45 years. Satsuki was one of nearly 50 hippos that are being kept at zoos across Japan. Ueno Zoo now has just one hippo, a 27-year-old male Jiro.