'I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas': Zoo Welcomes New Addition Ahead of the Holidays

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No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses — this zoo got a hippopotamus for Christmas.

Francesca, a 26-year-old endangered pygmy hippo, arrived to the Oklahoma City Zoo, just two weeks before the big day.

Zookeepers say the hippo, nicknamed Franny, is calm and confident, and enjoys snacking on carrots, yams, apples and cucumbers.

The hippo was rehomed from the San Diego Zoo, now joins a 43-year-old male hippo, Wolee, in her new habitat.

“We’re excited to for Wolee to have a new companion in Francesca,” Kevin Drees, a director at the zoo, said in a statement.

The special arrival was announced by "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" singer Gayla Peevey, who was only 10 years old when she recorded the popular holiday jingle in 1953.

Peevey, an Oklahoma City native, said her original song was used shortly after it came out as a part of a fundraising campaign to help the Oklahoma City Zoo acquire their first hippo, encouraging locals to donate a dime to the campaign.

It was successful and helped the zoo rehome its first Nile hippo Matilda in time for Christmas that year.

“It was such a joy to be a part of bringing the first hippo to the Oklahoma City Zoo in 1953,” Peevey said in a statement. “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.”

In the years since, other versions of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" have been performed by LeAnn Rimes, the Jonas Brothers and Captain & Tennille

As for Matilda, she was later rehomed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the late 1990s.

Officials say there are less than 3,000 pygmy hippos left in the wild. The species continues to be threatened by poachers and habitat loss.


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