This Couple Used a Real-Life Hippo to Pull Off Their Gender Reveal

Needless to say, it’s sparked some mixed reactions online.
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By Ashley Edwards Walker, Contributing Writer
Published September 27, 2019
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Over the last few years we’ve seen our fair share of unusual gender reveals, from an elaborate gender reveal manicure to a pink-or-blue lasagna. But this latest one, which includes a real-life hippo, may just take the cake. Or in this case, the watermelon. Let us explain.

Texas couple Jonathan and Bridgette Joseph wanted to do something unique for their gender reveal. So they enlisted the help of Tank, a 4,000-pound hippo who lives at Capital of Texas Zoo in Cedar Creek, Texas, and shared the whole thing on TikTok.

In the video, Jonathan is seen approaching Tank’s enclosure with a juicy, round watermelon. The big guy opens his mouth right up, even drooling a little and jutting his neck out past the fence to get closer to the offered treat. Jonathan then tosses the watermelon into Tank’s open mouth and the hippo bites down. Blue color squirts everywhere. It’s a boy!

Everyone who’s watching immediately starts celebrating. Especially Jonathan, who looks at the camera with a big smile and both arms in the air as he yells “yes!” He and Bridgette then hug as Jonathan continues, “Thank God!”

Meanwhile, Tank is enjoying his snack in the background.

The original video racked up 7,500 likes on TikTok. Which is where Ana Bretón saw it—and then she shared it on Twitter with the caption, “I did it. I found the worst gender reveal.”

Uh oh.

More than eight million views later, the video had gone viral. That’s when the swift and intense backlash against the Josephs kicked in.

“Next time use the baby,” one person commented on Bretón’s thread.

“Did they give that poor hippo chemicals?” asked another, tagging animal rights organization PETA.

“I really wanted this hippo to vomit blue liquid all over them right after,” tweeted a third.

“That person’s baby is not remotely important enough to feed a hippo 10 pounds of food coloring,” a fourth added.

But despite the initial reaction on Twitter, plenty of people praised the couple for being so creative when the zoo shared the same video on its official Facebook account the following day. It probably helped that whoever wrote the post made sure to clarify that the blue color was just blue Jell-O placed inside the watermelon, and that “no hippos were harmed in the making of this video.”

“This is so cute!” one person wrote under the post. “So happy for the lucky couple!”

“I love this!” said a second. “All the trolls need to have a watermelon shoved in their mouths.”

When another person pointed out that parents feed their children the same blue Jell-O all the time, and suggested that Tank probably liked the attention, the zoo seemingly agreed, writing back, “We provide all sorts of enrichment for our animals.”

So far it looks like the couple has not responded to the backlash directly. But Bridgette did share the video on her own Facebook page, where she revealed that she set up a GoFundMe to thank Tank for his help with their gender reveal by helping the zoo secure him a companion hippo. At press time, $300 toward the $5,000 goal had been raised.

“My family and I fell head over heels when we met Tank,” Bridgette captioned her post. “Please help us repay him for making our exciting day extra special! He needs a hippo companion and we want to make that happen!”


Bretón also followed up on Twitter to say she had spoken with Bridgette and wanted to help clear things up.

“I’ve been in touch with the family in the video,” Bretón wrote. “While I’m not a fan of gender reveals, it was not my intention to bring darkness to their special day. Here’s some background written by Bridgette.”

She then shared the following message:

“This was one of the happiest days of our lives. With the help of the zoo and the amazing Tank the hippo, we learned that we are having a baby boy. After many years of raising our beautiful young lady, we decided to try for another baby. It took some time and some extra money in fertility treatments, but we finally got pregnant!”

Then, after briefly addressing the haters who criticized the video for its celebration of gender, she clarified that they had worked with Tank’s owner to ensure the Jell-O and watermelon were organic and safe for the animal to consume before making the video.

“Tank was more than happy to have the treat,” she concluded. “He walked right up to us and opened his mouth.” Which, as we pointed out earlier, is absolutely true.

The truth is, there’s a lot of pressure around pulling off the perfect gender reveal. Need some inspiration? Check out some of our favorite unique gender reveal ideas.

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