Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Brookline Residents Awaiting Hippo's Return

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Brookline Residents Awaiting Hippo's Return

Article excerpt

A hippopotamus is missing from Brookline. He's concrete, a few feet tall and can squirt water out of his nose through copper pipes. He was a fixture at the neighborhood kiddie pool for more than two decades. Have you seen him?

For those who grew up in Brookline in the 1980s and '90s, their worst fear is that their darling hippo is languishing in captivity - its concrete skin coated in dust at a dark warehouse near Butler Street.

But to find the truth is to follow a fine line between rumor and reality, and the only fact neighborhood residents have to go by is that they haven't seen their beloved hippo since it was removed during construction four years ago from its spot in the pool.

So they let their imaginations run wild.

"It's like in that Indiana Jones movie - the 'Ark of the Covenant,' " said Doug Brendel, born and raised in Brookline. "It's in this big warehouse somewhere with a number on it."

There has been much chatter lately among Brookline residents about searching for the hippo, which resided in the pool as a playful fountain feature for children for more than two decades. It was taken away in 2013 by the city's Department of Public Works during an overhaul of the Brookline Memorial Park, which replaced the pool with a dek hockey rink.

But the hippo is a reminder of simpler times, back in the 1980s and 1990s when children splashed in the hippo spray on warm summer days.

It's an endearing icon that residents say they'd like to see installed in front of their recreation center, or at least back in the neighborhood as the city intended. Time is of the essence, though, as the hippo's situation could be "desperate," as one resident put it.

"What is the life expectancy of a hippo in captivity?" a post in a private neighborhood Facebook group read.

The hippo's roots in the community date to the early 1980s, when the city added a swimming pool, two baseball fields and tennis courts to the park area. …

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