Every so often I come across a news article that has writing powerful enough to move me. The Washington Post carried one of those stories today.
Happy is not much to look at. He has stained teeth, tiny ears and he drools. He’s very large — like, slow-getting-out-of-the-pool large. And he’ll sneeze on you if you’re not paying attention to him. He gets away with this because he’s the National Zoo’s only Nile hippopotamus.
JT, on the other hand — short for John Taylor, a keeper at the zoo — sets aside the best hay for Happy, hoses down Happy’s tongue in the morning, lobs heads of lettuce into Happy’s yawning mouth, and can look into Happy’s bulbous brown eyes and tell if he’s upset.
Thirteen years they’ve been together.
But soon they will have to part, and JT, at least, is heartbroken. “Miss him ain’t the word,” he said. “I hate talking about it because I get too emotional.”