Ever contemplate the complexities of hippo castration? Apparently they are many. Elizabeth Preston recently found a fascinating article in the journal Theriogenology (the branch of veterinary medicine which deals with reproduction), about the difficulties of castrating male hippos to control aggression and population in captivity.
The 90 minute procedure can be found in the original article, for those of you who want to give it a go. But be prepared for a frustrating operation; hippo testes are kept within the body (according to Preston, other mammals with internal testes include the armadillo, sloth, whale, and platypus), and they move around! Hippo nads can be in different locations from one animal to the next, and they may retract further during surgery to evade the knife. The vets in the study use ultrasounds both before and during the procedure to locate the “spatially dynamic” hippo balls.
Another perplexing would-be challenge is that the animals recover from surgery in their environments of “water packed with feces.” We would expect this to cause horrible infections, but it turns out hippos excrete a magical antibacterial red colored “sweat” through their hides which gives them miraculous healing super powers. You’ll be happy to know all ten of the hippo subjects recovered without a hitch from their castrations.
Fascinated by the wacky world of animal sex and reproduction (or lack there of)? Check out Isabella Rotman’s rad comic, Animal Sex!