Monday, January 28, 2008

Hippo Suits

A couple of days ago I mentioned the hippo in a metaphorical sense. Today I talk about the real thing, the species of animal that kills more people in Africa than any other. And time to go back to Zambia…

The Times yesterday had a feature on a man who traveled out there to get really close to the animals in order to collect samples of sweat for scientific analysis. The article links through to a video of him. It is quite preposterous.

The guy sounds like a Jackass. I don't actually mean that pejoratively, I mean he sounds like one of those guys from the TV show who deliberately put themselves into the most uncomfortable, painful, dangerous and scatological positions simply because they enjoy it. Absolutely fair enough, entertainment for the rest of us, no problem with that at all.

But this guy justified the need to get his expensive kicks for scientific research. That justification is hippodung. It is worth going to the Luangwa valley to study wild animal behaviour. But it is not worth investing the resources of the Smithsonian Institute and countless airmiles to collect some hipposweat - get that at your local zoo.

After all his cost and effort, the "researcher" did get his African adventure holiday and his tailormade armoured suit. But he did not get his sample. I'm not surprised, he wants to go back for more.

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