Lu, Wildlife park hippo, celebrates birthday

Lu the Hippopotamus finally turned 50 today.

The occasion was marked by a cake, a tire and children at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Hundreds of members of the public, as well as local media, were on hand to sing happy birthday to the critter, born on Jan. 26, 1960, at the San Diego Zoo. After the African hippo chomped down the cake, he was given a tractor tire donated by a local merchant - one of his favorite toys in the park.

Looking back through the years, Lu weighed just 90 pounds at birth, and now weighs about 6,000 pounds. He is a vegetarian, and consumes 15 pounds of alfalfa hay, four scoops of herbivore diet and a 5-gallon bucket of vegetables and fruit daily.

He was a star of movies and television as part of Ivan Tors Animal Actors. Some of his credits include the movies Daktari and Cowboy in Africa, and television specials such as the Jack Linkletter Show and Herb Alpert Special. He also starred in a Union Carbide commercial, during which he tested the strength and durability of this product by tossing a tire around.

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