Did You Know Congress Almost Imported Hippos to Louisiana?
The year was 1910. It was the same year Hallmark cards debuted and the Boy Scouts of America was organized.
American was suffering through somewhat of a meat shortage and the vast bayous and waterways of south Louisiana were being choked off by water hyacinths which was killing fish.
That's when Representative Robert Broussard of Louisiana hit Congress with a brilliant idea that would solve both problems with a single blow.
It's Said That Hippopotamuses Are Actually Good To Eat
If Congress approved, thousands of hippopotamuses would be brought into the swamps of Louisiana where they'd eat up the unwanted hyacinths and once the population was established, could be hunted for their meat. Some even nicknamed that hippo meat as "lake cow bacon."
In a story from salon.com, we learn that Representative Broussard introduced the so-called "America Hippo Bill" in 1910 and asked that Congress approve an expense of $250,000 to be used to go to Africa and bring hippopotamuses to the United States.
Broussard's logic was winning support initially. Even the New York Times and former President Roosevelt where both in favor of importing "the river horse" to Louisiana's swamps.
There Were Some Who Saw The Downside To This Idea
However, many were afraid of the dangerous hippos, which have been said to kill an average of 500 people in Africa in each year, far more than the much more feared lion.
It was also discussed that the hippo population might not fare well during the colder Louisiana winters along with the potential for other ecological issues the hippo might cause.
It was that line of thinking that prevailed as it is reported that the American Hippo Bill fell short of passage by one single vote.
Who knows what would have become of south Louisiana waterways if this thing had passed. We might have created as big an ecological failure as the introduction of feral hogs and Giant Salvinia, or it could have been the answer to feeding America's hungry, but we'll never know.