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Solly the hippo dies during rescue effort

| Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, 8:40 p.m.

MODIMOLLE, South Africa — Solly the hippo died on Friday in the swimming pool where he had sought refuge as he was chased by dominant males in his herd.

Solly's plight captivated animal lovers, and his death on Friday left many in tears.

“It started out as a happy story, and now it's a tragic story. It's devastating,” said Ruby Ferreira, manager of the game preserve lodge where the hippopotamus had been stuck in the swimming pool since Tuesday.

The 4-year-old, 3-ton hippo wandered into the Monate Conservation Lodge and plopped into its 8-foot-deep pool. Although he was able to swim freely, he could not get out because the pool has no steps.

South Africans watched his story on live TV.

Plans were drawn up to save Solly. The idea was to sedate him and winch the animal out of the pool using a crane, blindfold him and put him on a truck to safety.

Before he could be darted, the swimming pool had to be emptied to prevent him from drowning.

Then the veterinarian who was supposed to tranquilize Solly got waylaid, attending to a pregnant antelope.

Wildlife rescue experts and supporters tried to pour water on the hippo to keep him hydrated, but the animal became distressed Friday morning and died before he could be rescued.

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