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Georgia: A Happy Hippo and a Rebuilt Zoo for Flood Anniversary

Begi the hippo, seen here in his new enclosure at the Tbilisi Zoo, became the focal point and an Internet sensation during the devastating flood one year ago in the Georgian capital. About 230 animals drowned or were shot by police to prevent attacks on humans during the flood, which also was responsible for killing 23 people. (Photo: Giorgo Lomsadze)

One year after a devastating flood that killed 21 people and sent zoo animals into the streets of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, both the city’s zoo and its famous wandering hippopotamus, Begi, are back in shape.
 
On June 13, 2015, flood waters lifted Begi and other animals out of their downtown enclosures, creating an apocalyptic tableau of a city of 1.1 million people overrun by water and beasts. Some 230 animals drowned or were shot by police to prevent attacks on humans. Still, one man was mauled to death by an escaped tiger three days after the disaster. 
 
It was on that tragic night that Begi (“hippo”) offered comic relief as he sauntered around a central highway that cuts through the heart of Tbilisi. Next morning, he was sighted passing stately by a downtown Swatch store, pausing to munch phlegmatically on tree leaves. A tranquilizer and some impromptu volunteers, herding him like a cow, eventually returned Begi to the zoo.
 

To read the full story

Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist based in Tbilisi. He is a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet.org's Tamada Tales blog.

Georgia: A Happy Hippo and a Rebuilt Zoo for Flood Anniversary

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