About 20 years ago Andy Blue got a call asking for his help in moving a pygmy hippopotamus from an Escondido backyard to what was then the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona.
Blue, who was working for the San Diego Safari Park, brought a trailer to the house and fashioned a runway with hay bales and carrots.
With California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials, law enforcement and the media looking on, the hippo walked into the trailer, headed for a new life.
Now known as North America’s oldest pygmy hippo, Hannah Shirley has lived at the 13-acre Ramona center ever since. In 2020, the San Diego Humane Society purchased the Fund for Animals site, renaming it Ramona Wildlife Center.
Blue came on as director of the center, reuniting with the hippo he helped rescue. And on Nov. 21 he shared in the celebration of Hannah Shirley’s 49th birthday, which included presents and a…