Animal Studies Journal


[Review] John Simons. Obaysch: A Hippopotamus in Victorian London. Animal Publics Series, edited by Fiona Probyn-Rapsey and Melissa Boyde, Sydney University Press, 2019. 226 pp. John Simons’ riveting biography of a hippo invites the reader into the experience of Obaysch who was captured on the Nile in 1849 then became a ‘star’ animal in the Regent’s Park Zoological Gardens in London. Obaysch is not just figured symbolically, politically and culturally, as so many historical animals are; Simons entices him from the archives to inhabit his own embodied narrative – a process which springs him from entrapment as a spectacle behind bars at a very particular time for British imperialism.