That Time the US Congress Considered Hippo Ranching

Louisiana Representative Robert F. Broussard introduced a bill to the US House of Representative in 1910 that would promote the importation and domestication of hippopotamuses for commercial purposes. Broussard thought he had a great idea for killing two birds with one stone. Hippo meat would help ease the meat shortage the country was experiencing at the time, and hippos could also eat the invasive water hyacinths that had spread across Louisiana’s wetlands since it was introduced in 1884.

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The idea had some support. Teddy Roosevelt, the big game hunter, was all for it. Broussard also brought in experts to tell how nutritious hippopotamus meat is, how it tasted like a “combination of pork and beef,” and how hippo ranches could be set up on federal land to get the concept started.

Broussard had ideas for importing all kinds of African wildlife to the US, but hippos offered the most bang for the buck. He was mistaken in thinking that it would be easy, though. Hippos are dangerous, and there is no evidence they can ever be domesticated. Also, they wouldn’t be able to survive on a diet of water hyacinths. There are many reasons the idea was bad, but Congress didn’t know about them at the time. While Broussard’s idea for hippo ranching never got out of the starting gate, his campaign for the US to eat hippos is an amusing story you can read at Smithsonian.

(Illustration credit: Meilan Solly)

Source: neatorama

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