One of the more unusual attractions at a Florida State Park is Lu the Hippo. Lu just turned 50. Here is an article from the local news:
HOMOSASSA SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) - Lu the hippopotamus is celebrating his 50th birthday at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
Park officials have two parties scheduled on Tuesday for Lu, one of the oldest hippos in captivity.
When he was younger, the African hippopotamus was a part of the Ivan Tors Animal Actors, which used the Homosassa attraction as its winter home beginning in the late 1960s. Lu and some of the other animals were left at the privately owned park when it was sold.
When the state took over in 1989, officials had planned to find Lu a new home since he didn't fit in the all-Florida wildlife theme. But area residents objected, so Gov. Lawton Chiles made Lu an "honorary citizen" of Florida in 1991. This allowed Lu to stay at the park indefinitely.
Information from: St. Petersburg Times, http://tampabay.com
A little more background that is not in the story:
When the state park system took over Homosassa, Lu was named Lucifer. I guess they decided to tone down the satan thing in the name, and just called him Lu. To my knowledge, Lu has never killed anyone. And enjoys a peaceful retirement where he is fed whole watermelons.
Ivan Tors in Florida had a long history of Florida-based films and TV shows, like Flipper, Sea Hunt, and later Gentle Ben. They even worked on the underwater scenes for the James Bond film, Thunderball. I would assume that Lu was part of one of their Tarzan films that was dumped off at Homosassa when they were done?