Rube and Rubie
Arriving in San Diego as a pair from the Calcutta Zoo in 1940, Rube and Rubie quickly became popular with visitors and staff. Over their 40-plus years at the Zoo, they produced 11 offspring together, and Rube sired an additional 17. Rube and Ruby had their first calf 1943, a “little” lady named Lotus, who became a big draw during the lean times of WWII.
One of Rube and Rubie’s favorite things was watermelons, and watching them enjoy the juicy fruits became a “must-see” among Zoo visitors. The pair would scoop up the whole melons and chomp down, popping the treat like human would a grape. Rube also impressed anyone within earshot with his vocalizations. Cued by a keeper mimicking the sound, Rube would open his mouth, lift his chin, and let loose with what sounded like a cross between a bellow and a snore. The sound reverberated throughout the canyon where the hippo pool stood. It caused more than a few people to cover their ears!