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Japan's oldest hippo, Bashan, dies at 54

Bashan the hippo eats a soy pulp cake for her 52nd birthday in this photo provided by Kamine Zoo.

HITACHI, Ibaraki -- Japan's oldest hippopotamus, 54-year-old Bashan, has died, officials at Kamine Zoo here announced on May 12.

    The female hippo, who was about 95 years old in human terms, is believed to have died from old age.

    Zoo officials said that a worker who drained the pool in the hippo pen at around 5 a.m. on May 12 found Bashan lying on her side. She was later confirmed dead.

    Bashan was born in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, in March 1963, and arrived at the zoo in Ibaraki Prefecture in October 1968. Just before her death, she had been living with her 14th calf, the 25-year-old female Chapon.

    The zoo will hold a farewell ceremony for Bashan from 1:30 p.m. on May 28.

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