Oklahoma City Zoo Gets a Hippopotamus for Christmas
Photo courtesy of Gillian Lang and the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden
FedEx made a special delivery to the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden just in time for the holidays. Hundreds of people were on hand at the Zoo’s annual Hippo Holiday Sing-a-Long this week to celebrate the arrival of Francesca, a 26-year-old female pygmy hippopotamus. Caretakers describe Franny as confident and calm with a love for carrots, yams, cucumbers and apples. FedEx donated the cost of Francesca’s move to Oklahoma City as part of the company’s FedEx Cares Delivering for Good initiative.
“Hippos are an iconic part of the OKC Zoo’s legacy,” said Kevin Drees, director of animal collections. “Transporting animals from one location to another safely is a critical but costly endeavor. We are so grateful to FedEx Express for its logistical expertise and exceptional team members who brought Francesca to the OKC Zoo.”
Francesca’s arrival was announced by Gayla Peevey, the singer who first brought “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” to life in 1953. At that time, it inspired a statewide fundraising drive encouraging Oklahoma’s children to donate a dime to buy the Oklahoma City Zoo a hippo for Christmas. It was a successful campaign that resulted in the arrival of the Zoo’s first hippo, a Nile hippopotamus named Mathilda.
“It was such a joy to be a part of bringing the first hippo to the Oklahoma City Zoo in 1953,” Peevey said. “I never expected to play a part in announcing another hippo’s arrival 64 years later, but it’s been an absolute thrill to be involved with the Zoo all these years, to watch it grow and to see it thrive today.”
Pygmy hippos are currently listed as endangered with less than 3,000 in the wild. Although they do not have many natural predators, these shy animals are known to be hunted for their meat. They inhabit forests that are being burned and cut away at alarming rates due to logging and human encroachment. Pygmy hippos are much rarer and less aquatic than some of their larger hippo relatives. With a median life expectancy of 27 years, they can be found alone or in pairs in the wild, ranging from Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast. The Oklahoma City Zoo participates in the AZA’s Pygmy Hippo Species Survival Plan, a cooperative, long-term management program designed to maintain genetically viable and geographically stable populations of specific species.
Watch the video courtesy of the Oklahoma City Zoo to find out more. You can also visit okczoo.org.
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February 21, 2017
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