Thanksgiving 2008 & American Buffalo in Florida

Native Tribal People &

their heritage

receive the short

stick from our tasty national

holiday in the U.S. , Thanksgiving.

A few days before the 2008

Thanksgiving I took a detour with my

sister & we found this roadside

surprise  in Alachua County,

Florida.(c.) 2008 Jan Godown Annino

It was late in the afternoon, with a cool breeze

tickling the palm fronds.

As I watched this creature clip the field

for dinner,

near U.S. Highway 27,

I thought of archival reports from

the Old West, of

the thundering herds of bison that

could stampede for days,

which sustained the First Peoples

of North America.

This ranch buffalo of 2008 represents legit Florida

heritage, although the Florida bison were scant

compared to the way their cousins once blanketed the mid-West

& The West.

(Buffalo are featured in the book


the “Crossing Creeks and Prairie” chapter,

by my own self,  Jan Godown.  The chapter guides

you to the lucky chance for your own encounter to see

(c.) Jan G. Annino 2008

(c.) Jan G. Annino 2008

buffalo in a natural setting at

Paynes Prairie State Preserve)

For a fine picture book about the adoption & care of a buffalo calf by a father and son and the restoration of the Pablo-Allard herd, please see Joseph Bruchac’s BUFFALO SONG. The author consulted oral history recorded in part in the 1920s & 1930s in Montana. A 1926 Salish tribal story is woven into this lyrical book.  I like the information on it at and at the blog by Debbie Reese American Indians in Children’s Literature

To begin to understand the interesting work of Carol and Joseph Bruhac, please see

For another picture book about the woman who helped save American Buffalo, please see the story of Mary Ann Goodnight,  BUFFALO MUSIC, by

Tracey E. Fern. I like the review of it by children’s book maven Esme Raji Codell, posted  at her blogspot blog, Planet Esme.

(Look for the Oct. 14.200 blog, it’s after her review of a fine picture book bio on one of my picture book heroines, Wanda Gag, who lived for some time in the region where I grew up.)

To fully immerse in the topic, Steven Rinella’s new book, AMERICAN BUFFALO, recently reviewed on NPR (I’m pretty sure it was an interview with the very fine Terri Gross) follows the herds in history & also one particular buffalo that the author brings down on foot in Alaska, after winning a spot in a hunt lottery,  butchers by himself & then packs out for eating later. Not for everyone who reads nature nonfiction,  but if you fish ( I have) or hunt (haven’t, wouldn’t, unless for survival) or if you enjoy the buffalo steak in the cafeteria of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.   this book may be for you.

About Animals 6


 Each year on the Central West Coast of FLORIDA, a hippo born at the San Diego Zoo that has lived in Florida since 1966, receives extra visitors at a birthday bash. 

If you watched TV in the 1960s you may have seen Daktari. On that show you may have seen a hippo, an actor in the Ivan Tors  animal acting troupe.  Recently at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, visitors, children from Homosassa Springs Elementary School and hippo fans celebrated this same hippo’s 48th birthday.  The children call him Lu.

At the morning event Lu ate the first “cake,” bread baked in the peninsular shape & iced in red, white and blue. At the afternoon party, Lu declined the bread but took melon from park volunteer Vicky Iozzia, who is producing a children’s picture book about Lu, who she has observed during her 17 years of volunteer work at the park. 

The park takes responsiblity for Lu, who as a baby was taken from his mother hippo, Lotus, to work as an actor. Exotic animals often make cute appearances in a TV commercial or a series or a movie.  Lu mugged memorably in a commercial for a tire company. But fast forward 10, 15, or 20 years. What happens to animal actors when they are too told to perform? Who cares for them then?


This blog has produced a new book, Florida’s Famous Animals, which lists some animal retirement sites in Florida,  such as a non-profit, closed-to-the-public site, that shelters some former orangutan and chimpanzee actors, along with casts-offs from private ownership. It is the Center for Great Apes.

Florida’s Famous Animals also features comments from fans of Lu, a black and white glamour shot of him, and his life story told in a chapter, “Lu, Town Hippo.”


In 1850, the first hippo thought to be seen outside of Africa was visited by up to 10,000 of the curious daily, at the London Zoo. It arrived there as a trade from Egypt,  in an exchange for British hunting dogs. Named Obaysch for the island from which it was taken, the London hippo died in 1878.


Male hippos in captivity can live to 61, as was the story for Tanga of the Munich Zoo, who died in 1995. So Lu, Town Hippo of Homosassa, has perhaps a decade of birthday hoopla on the horizon.


For conservation information about the 125,000 to 150,000 remaining hippos in Africa look to

Other hippo conservation news is at the site that tells the tale of Owen and Mzee, hipppo and tortoise who became friends after the 2004 tsunami made hippo Owen an orphan.

And for conservation advocacy about many exotic animals look to The World Wildlife Fund.

To meet fans of hippos the world over, connect with website of the Hippolotofus group, a traveling club of hippo lovers who convene to celebrate and collect all things hippo.


This blog slautes those who care about and care for exotic animals in retirement ~ you saw this kicker coming didn’t you ~ so

hip hippo hurray~