A clip of Jonathan and Bridgette Joseph tossing a watermelon – filled with blue Jell-O – into a hippopotamus’ mouth at the Capital of Texas Zoo in Cedar Creek was posted on the video-sharing app TikTok on Saturday. Soon after, the couple went viral across social media for the controversial gender reveal.
In the footage, Jonathan is seen tossing the melon into the mouth of a 5-year-old Nile hippo named Tank. Tank then chomps down, busting the melon open and revealing the blue Jell-O, indicating the pair was expecting a baby boy.
The Josephs cheer at the news and hug. However, their excitement was not shared on Twitter, where filmmaker Ana Bretón posted a clip of the video, calling it the “worst gender reveal.”
The tweet, which racked up 7 million views and 34K retweets as of Monday afternoon, received comments shaming the couple for feeding the animal food dye — and also slamming the husband for saying “thank God,” after it is revealed the couple is having a boy.
The couple was shocked by the attention — and the comments.
In a follow-up tweet, Bretón shared Bridgette’s explanation of the choice to use a hippo in the reveal, also defending their actions as “safe” for the hippo. Bridgette explained that the couple had been trying for a boy for many years after having a daughter.
The zoo also tried to squash the outrage, claiming Tank “enjoyed it as much as anyone else” and stating that the zoo helped the couple plan the reveal, the New York Post reports.
“This is the same Jell-O people feed their kids. It’s totally harmless,” zoo director Michael Hicks, who reportedly routinely gives Tank watermelons filled with Jell-O as a treat, told the Post.
“You can’t make a hippo do anything. He weighs 4,000 pounds,” he added. “He enjoyed it as much as anybody else did.”