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Saturday, March 17 2018 @ 02:21 AM AKDT

The Remarkable Early 20th Century Plan to Farm Hippopotamuses in the US

Weird News"It may seem like a ludicrous idea today, but if this early 20th century food movement had been successful, the swamps of Louisiana might be filled with hippos, who would feast on the region's invasive water hyacinths and provide meat for America's tables.

Jon Mooallem's fascinating long read American Hippopotamus, which is available through the Atavist and as a Kindle Single, details the circumstances that led up to this remarkable proposal. In 1910, the United States, with its growing population and many of its native animals hunted to extinction, was facing a meat shortage. Frederick Russell Burnham, a famed American scout, had a novel idea to beef up the country's dwindling meat supply: import animals from Africa. Burnham is the star of Mooaellem's piece and with good reason; he was a highly skilled scout whose exploits the Matabele Wars and Second Boer War were legendary, and he was a key inspiration for the Boy Scouts of America. While settled in a secluded part of Pasadena, Burnham began to think about repopulating the landscape with the animals he had encountered during his time in southern Africa. In 1910, the New York Independent published his article "Transplanting African Animals." Read more at

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