This museum, established in 1884, is interesting for its mammal displays, missionary history, Xhosa anthropology and German Settler and military and local history. It also has research facilities and an Education Centre.
THE GREAT TREK OF HUBERTA THE HIPPO:
The wandering hippopotamus Huberta, who started a great trek across South Africa in November 1928, is the star exhibit at this museum in King Williams Town. She spent three years covering about 1 600km, wandering from Richards Bay in Kwazulu-Natal as far as the Keiskamma River near King William’s Town. During her long journey, she munched her way through gardens, gate-crashed parties, knocked down fences, overturned boats, trampled golf courses and wallowed in lagoons. Initially christened ‘Hubert’ by the media she was promptly renamed Huberta when her sex became obvious!
During a visit in Northern Natal someone decided she’d make a good mate for a lonely hippo in the Johannesburg zoo, but the lady was not in favour! She ran for it, charging aggressively and chasing people up trees. Afterwards she was proclaimed royal game, photographers followed her, the media wrote about her journeys and she attracted many fans.
Huberta’s next stop was Durban, munching her way through sugar cane fields, trampling over gardens, then wallowing in the lagoon at the mouth of the Mlanga river for a season. Then Huberta set off again this time into Durban itself. She waddled through golf courses, housing estates and even gate-crashed a party at the Durban country club by appearing on the verandah among the partygoers.
Realising she was unwelcome there, she charged off, crashing through fences and fields. On a stroll into town, she paid the local chemist a visit.
Huberta was admired by all cultures: Indians sacrificed a goat in her honour, Zulus believed she had a connection to their leader Shaka as she often visited Zulu pools and the Pondo tribe of the Wild Coast believed she was a reincarnated legendary diviner.
In 1930 Huberta had reached Port St Johns where she promptly began grazing in gardens and overturning boats, much to the amusement of some. She stayed here for six months, then wandered on. By March 1931 she had reached East London where she made it to the Keiskamma river where, sadly, three hunters shot her. After a national outcry, the hunters were caught and pleading ignorance, were fined the equivalent of R25. Experts recovered her body and took her back with them to the museum where she can be seen today.