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OSAKA: This undated handout image shows "Gen-chan", a 12-year-old hippopotamus, at Tennoji Zoo. - AFP
OSAKA: This undated handout image shows "Gen-chan", a 12-year-old hippopotamus, at Tennoji Zoo. - AFP

He hippo turns out to be a she

TOKYO: Betrayed by its DNA and unmanly toilet habits, a hippopotamus in Japan thought for seven years to be a he is in fact a she, the zoo where the wallowing giant lives said Tuesday. The 12-year-old came to Osaka Tennoji Zoo in 2017 from the Africam Safari animal park in Mexico, where officials attested on customs documents that the then five-year-old was male.

But zookeepers long scratched their heads, a spokeswoman told AFP. In particular, Gen-chan did not display the typical male hippo behavior of splattering feces around while defecating — with a propeller-like tail motion — in order to mark territory. Nor did it make courtship calls to females and zookeepers were unable to visually identify any male genitalia, a dangerous task in such a large and potentially aggressive beast.

“Therefore, we requested a DNA test at an external institution, and the result showed it was female,” the zoo said in a statement posted last week. “We will keep doing our best to provide comfortable environment to Gen-chan, so everyone, please come and see,” it said. – AFP

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