A STRANGE hunt for hippopotamuses is to take place as part of a village charity fundraising project.

Schools, charities, organisations, businesses and individuals in Kingsclere can buy and decorate a fibreglass hippo and be part of a community project, culminating in an auction of the rare beasts next June.

Owners will take 75 per cent of the sale profit, and the remaining 25 per cent will go to Naomi House Children’s Hospice.

The Hippo Hunt will be held during half-term week – from May 29 until June 4, 2010 – when residents can look for all the hippos on display at various indoor and outdoor locations, using a map, before they are auctioned off at Sandford Springs Golf Club, near Kingsclere, on June 6.

Anyone sponsoring a hippo can use it for fundraising purposes until the auction.

Kingsclere mum-of-two Alison Collington, who is spearheading the project, said: “There have been a couple of big projects, Go Elephants in Norwich and Go Penguins in Liverpool at the moment, but I am sure this project will work just as well in a local community.”

Forty-seven-year-old Mrs Collington, of Newbury Road, Kingsclere, added: “It’s a really exciting community project.”

Up to 50 plain, fibreglass hippos are up for sale in various sizes from 60cm to 180cm and ranging in price from under £100 to £495.

Zippo is the first hippo of the scheme, decorated like a zebra by Kingsclere artist Dominique Salm.

All the profits from the sale of this hippo will go to Naomi House, the Sutton Scotney-based charity, which supports children and young people with life-limiting illnesses.

A launch night for the hippo scheme is being held at the Kingsclere golf club at 7pm, on October 15.