14 December 2021

Two hungry hippos have had their Christmas dinner early this year, as zookeepers at Whipsnade Zoo served them up a whopping 5kg of Brussels sprouts. 

Four year-old common hippopotamus Hodor and his mum, 1.5 tonnes hippo Lola, were invited to try a new vegetable this festive season by their keepers, who thought they would love the taste of the much-maligned Christmas side-dish.  
Although the hippos had never tried sprouts before, their keepers were hopeful that Brussels sprouts could be a new favourite, based on their love of cabbages and the similarity between the leafy vegetables.  

Get animals in your inbox
The two, mammoth pachyderms immediately devoured the pile of 260 Brussels sprouts, hoovering them up with their massive mouths in a matter of minutes. Some of the sprouts did take a tumble into their pool, but the pair were quick to dive in and rescue the stray vegetables floating in what looks like a river of gravy. 
Team leader Mark Holden said: “If you think the Brussels sprouts on your Christmas Day plate are unappetising, just look at these sprouts, bobbing around the hippo pool. Hodor and Lola not only seem to think Brussels sprouts are an unmatched delicacy, but they are very happy scooping any runaway veg out of their brown, wallowing-pool with their giant jaws! 
“Some people are worried that eating Brussels sprouts on Christmas Day might give them flatulence, but that’s just everyday life for a hippopotamus! They defecate to mark their territory, so they certainly don’t mind a bit of ‘wind’ between family members!” 

  • Ernie the Otter at Whipsnade Zoo
    8 December 2021

    'Otter joy' at Christmas baubles

    Feeding our otters their favourite snacks, such as fish and mealworms, in special Christmas Baubles!

  • Three tiger brothers Makari Czar and Dmitri
    23 December 2021

    Tiger Christmas

    Three-year-old Amur tigers, Dmitri, Makari and Czar discovered the colourful Christmas presents, each sprayed with a different, intriguing scent.

  • Asian elephants with an elephant calf
    2 December 2021

    Elephant Christmas

    While many families are starting to decorate their trees for Christmas, our keepers knew that our herd of endangered Asian elephants would have more fun pulling, shaking off and even eating decorations.

  • Rhino calf Zhiwa posing for a photo next to mum Behan
    17 December 2019

    70kg bundle of Christmas joy

    Baby greater one-horned rhino makes festive debut at Whipsnade Zoo in December 2019.