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From Hippo to Hero: Moto Moto's Heartwarming Journey to his Forever Home

Do you remember the handsome and charismatic hippo from the animated movie Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa named Moto Moto? He captured the hearts of whomever he laid eyes on. Well, our staff thought this name was very fitting for one lovable stray house hippo who came to the York County SPCA on December 1, 2022. Amanda, one of our client services counselors, remembers his appearance and temperament when he first arrived at the shelter: “He was very dirty and didn't seem like he was kept indoors. Nonetheless, he was so sweet to us and greeted us with a smile. He was happy with any interactions he had at that time. Such a sweet soul from beginning to end.”

When Moto Moto arrived, he was experiencing a few health challenges, this can be common with strays and especially seniors like him. During his initial exam with the shelter veterinary team, he was discovered to have a mass which was removed and biopsied to ensure it was not cancerous. The results came back as a low-grade mast cell tumor which was then completely excised to guarantee his health moving forward.


Moto Moto was also struggling with his weight. Our team immediately started him on a health plan to begin his weight loss journey. This plan included regular exercise with our staff and volunteer dog walkers and special diet food. During his time with us, he was able to lose seven pounds! Thanks to the Grey Muzzle Organization’s grant for senior dogs, our team could perform a full bloodwork panel on him. Moto Moto was even able to have a full dental cleaning and a benign mass removed through the veterinary technician program at York Technical Institute. These procedures took place on Valentine’s Day 2023, marking over two months in our care. Still, we continued to advocate for Moto and support him in finding the perfect adopter to help him live out his golden years!

On April 16, 2023, he had a first meet with a young woman named Erin, her husband, and their son. The meet went well, and our Lead Client Services Counselor, Steven, said, “Moto Moto was as sweet as lemonade the entire time. He came out ready to go and barreled into the adults immediately, but that's all part of his charm.”

To our best hopes for Moto Moto, Erin and her family decided to adopt him! He officially went home two days later, beaming with his tongue out and ready to go!


Erin has provided us with updates on how he has settled in, and even though it took a lot of patience and time, he began to transform into an entirely new dog! She wrote the cutest update from his point of view:

“Hi everyone, you might know me as Moto Moto, but my new family decided that Tank fit my personality better! Plus, it's easier for my little human to say. I love to follow him around and sit beside him because sometimes he drops crumbs. I gladly lick them up so that way Mom doesn't have to sweep the floors as often because I like to try and eat the dust bunnies that my fur has made. Speaking of Mom, she is my favorite. We snuggle on the couch and sometimes take naps together. She told me that I took her favorite blanket, but I don't know what she's talking about. We share it, but it's now my favorite blanket too. I also sleep snuggled into her hoodie at night. Did I mention she is my favorite human? Some afternoons I just lay by the front door and watch the neighbors. I’m nosey, but the one lady is so nice -- she gave me treats! We all go on walks together in the evening, and I am dog-tired by the time we get back. That’s usually when I pass out on Mom’s leg as we relax for the night. I love it when Dad gets home from work. He will throw my ball and give me all the back scratches I want. I get big zoomies when he plays with me. I now have two feline brothers too, but we still aren't sure of each other yet, but slow progress is better than none. I just want to be their friend, but they are a lot smaller than me and scared. Overall, my new life is great! I have learned “sit” and “nice” for when taking treats. I also learned to sit and wait for my food, so I don’t knock Mom or Dad out of the way when they put my bowl down for me. I can get excited and will plow my way through. Tank is such a good name for me! I'm also learning lay, paw, and stay. My family loves me to pieces, and I love them! I'm always smiling when I'm with them!”

Hearing updates like these warms our hearts! Our staff and volunteers put so much time and love into all of the pets in our care! The best outcome we can hope for our adoptable pets is that they will find a home like Erin’s, who take the time to know their pet, have patience in the transition stage, and love them like no other. We can never know what Moto Moto’s life was like prior to coming to our shelter, what we know now is that he is being loved and cared for every day by his new, forever family.


Canine Behavior Coordinator, Sammy, summed Moto Moto up beautifully when she said, “Moto [our nickname for him] was one of the bubbliest dogs I have ever worked with. He was awesome with other dogs, great at playing fetch (would release and loved to play tug), and he easily allowed me to hug, kiss, and squeeze him. He loved everyone and was just the gentlest land hippo. He was easy with all touch sensitivities, no resource guarding, and provided shelter staff and volunteers with nothing but love and tail wags!”

We could not be more overjoyed for what his future holds, and we want to extend our thanks to the staff and volunteers who were a part of Moto Moto’s journey, Erin and her family for giving him a new leash on life, and the Grey Muzzle Grant for providing us the financial resources to give him the necessary medical care to ensure this senior boy was in great health.

We hope Moto Moto’s story encourages you to take a chance on a senior dog – you won’t regret it!