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At Vanguard, we always try to say YES to clients, and, sometimes we find ourselves undertaking the oddest but interesting projects, one such call resulted in Vanguard being experts in Hippo movements!
It all started with contact from Chessington World of Adventures, who advised that they had a Hippopotamus called Ben, who was decidedly a lonely bachelor but, that may be about to change as they had negotiated the purchase of a female hippo from Madrid Zoo, the problem was the movement to Chessington, could we help? They were delighted to hear our reply “we specialise in moving hippopotamuses.”
That was the start of a fast learning curve, however, after initial discussions with Chessington and phone conversations with Madrid Zoo, we were extremely confident that the project was well within our expertise. We had a specially designed crate manufactured, that had double doors at each end, together with access hatches, in order to facilitate feeding/cleaning en route, this crate was delivered to Madrid Zoo some days prior to the movement date in order that Negna, the female hippo could become acclimatised and not view the crate as the enemy.
Our pantechnicon, duly kitted out with on board communications between the rear and driver, water containers and the required securing equipment departed from Depot and via Brittany Ferries from Plymouth to Santander, some 24 hrs after departure arrived in Madrid. Upon arrival, the vehicle was loaded with three days rations of hay, bananas and bran for the hippo, together with sufficient water. Once the crate with Hippo was loaded, the vehicle departed en route to Santander, there the vehicle was loaded to the rear of the vessel, directly beneath the ventilation ducts (for obvious reasons) and close to water source. The driver and the keeper remained with the vehicle throughout the 24 hrs crossing, except for meals, upon arrival in Plymouth and completion of the Customs/health formalities the vehicle proceeded to Chessington World of Adventures, there, our crew and cranage were waiting, the laden crate was removed from the pantechnicon, lowered into the hippo enclosure, the doors opened and everyone waited, with bated breath to see what would happen.
Ben in the meantime was having a quiet swim in the pool, when Negna finally emerged she entered the pool, somehow managed to negotiate the fence between her and Ben, when she surfaced, Ben ( who had never seen another hippo, let alone a female), shot out of the pool to the safety of his outdoor enclosure. Meanwhile Negna enjoyed the pool on her own whilst Ben remained totally bemused!