Named after conservationist Karen Paolillo’s childhood pony, Kuchek is a male hippo born in 2001 and in Paolillo’s professional and personal opinion, is a very special animal.
As male hippos draw to maturity they are usually driven out by their family to make way for future calves and as not to spar with the dominant bull. Kuchek however, refused to leave and stayed with his family no matter how much they fought him (fighting is normal hippo behaviour). In her 28 years of conservation work, Paolillo has only seen this behaviour in bull hippos twice!
At the age of 13, Kuchek’s parents were gone and he is now in charge of his own family as the father of four calves. Considered by the Turgwe Hippo Trust team as the most photogenic hippo, Kuchek is lighter than the other hippos and has a hairier head.