Hidden Los Angeles: A Place Where You Can Pet a Hippo (And Survive!)

Los Angeles Zoo - Hippo Encounter. One of the most unique things to do in LA.

I’m always on the lookout for the most unique things to do in LA. That’s when I came across the Los Angeles Zoo’s newest interactive program called “Hippo Encounter” ($15 per person; available only on weekends and holidays at 12 PM).

The hippos come waddling out to see us!

Kevin and I have walked with lion prides in Zambia, petted tigers in Thailand, swum with crocodiles in the Amazon and rented a car to do our own driving safari through South Africa. And yes, clearly we have a death wish!

Kevin pretends he’s a hippo – that is an actual tooth from a hippopotamus

Believe it or not, hippos are considered one of the most dangerous animals on the planet. While they may look clumsy, huggable and smooshy, they’re very territorial and aggressive. So obviously, we were both on board to get in their space! You’ll need to purchase separate tickets for the zoo ($21 per adult, discounts for seniors and children).  But be sure to allow at least 30 minutes to walk to the very back of the park. We had no clue — and pretty much sprinted to make it (and in record time!).

The entrance to the LA Zoo – allow at least 30 minutes to get to the hippo enclosure (or have good running shoes!)

You’ll go behind-the-scenes to meet the zoo’s two beloved hippos, Mara and baby Rosie. And meet a trained zookeeper who will answer any questions you have about their daily care, training and feeding. Speaking of feeding, these animals love to eat! On average, they’ll eat 90 lbs of food each day! Watching them eat, really felt like a game of ‘Hungry Hungry Hippos” — especially when it came time to feed them the melons.

After 10 minutes of watching them eat, it was finally our time to pet them.  Oh boy! Unlike most other semiaquatic animals, the hippopotamus has very little hair. They have thick skin – about 2 inches thick – that protects them against predators. But the weirdest part of how a hippo feels? They’re a little slimy — secreting a natural sunscreen called “blood sweat” (though it’s neither blood nor sweat). Pretty much Kevin and I are convinced this will become the next expensive, anti-aging skin care product in Hollywood!

You’ll definitely want to use some hand sanitizer after petting. Get ready to feel the slime!

The group is limited to 25 people, but we only had about 8 others on our recent visit. The cost of the encounter goes towards the renovation effort to update the zoo’s outdated enclosures. In total, the experience lasts less than an hour so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the rest of the zoo. And now Kevin and I will have to figure out the next crazy animal encounter. As long as it doesn’t involved swimming in the Amazon — now that was just foolish. We don’t even like swimming in the ocean!

Exploring the rest of the zoo – I found my poisonous frog!

The LA Zoo is huge – if you need to prioritize, head to the front of the park (which has been renovated recently).

 

 

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Hidden Los Angeles: A Place Where You Can Pet a Hippo (And Survive!)
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Hidden Los Angeles: A Place Where You Can Pet a Hippo (And Survive!)
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I'm always on the lookout for the most unique things to do in LA. That's when I came across the Los Angeles Zoo's newest interactive program called "Hippo Encounter"

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