Memphis Zoo Announces Birth of Baby Hippo

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s a girl! A big bundle of joy has joined the Memphis Zoo family. “Binti,” a Nile hippopotamus, gave birth to a healthy, 76-pound baby girl on March 23, 2017.The baby hippo, whose name is not yet decided, will make her debut on exhibit April 7 at 8 a.m.

The Memphis Zoo will open early to Members only on Friday, April 7 at 8 a.m. and will open early to the public on Saturday, April 8 at 8 a.m.

The Memphis Zoo staff has carefully chosen five names for consideration, and the public is encouraged to vote for their favorite name. The contest kicks off at noon today, April 6 and runs through noon Thursday, April 13. The final name will be announced Friday, April 14 via the Zoo’s social media pages.

“This is one of our most significant births in a long, long time,” said Matt Thompson, director of animal programs. “It’s also incredibly special – as Binti and her baby are carrying on our legacy of hippos in their brand-new home, Zambezi River Hippo Camp.”

Mother and baby are bright and alert, and can be seen in their new exhibit in Zambezi River Hippo Camp during the mornings.

“Binti is an extremely attentive mother, and is very protective of her calf,” said Farshid Mehrdadfar, Curator of West Zone. “The little lady follows her mom around everywhere, and you can typically find her asleep on Binti’s nose or back.”

This infant is the second for mother, Binti, and first for father, “Uzazi.” Binti, a 19-year-old female, was born at the Denver Zoo. She arrived in Memphis in 2013 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Her name means “daughter,” or “young lady,” in Swahili.  Uzazi, a 16-year-old male, arrived at the Memphis Zoo in 2016, in preparation for the opening of Zambezi River Hippo Camp. His name is derived from a Swahili word meaning “good parent.”

This is a significant birth for the Memphis Zoo, and for the greater hippo population, as only about 79 hippos are currently on exhibit throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. The species is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List, the most comprehensive inventory of conservation statuses.

For more information, visit www.memphiszoo.org/hippo.

About the Memphis Zoo Hippos

Memphis, once called the “Hippo Capital of the World.” Current hippo “Splish” was born on Christmas Day 1988, along with her twin, “Splash.” They were born to parents “Julie” and “Uebi.” Julie was the daughter “Adonis,” the first hippo to reside at the Memphis Zoo.

Adonis and his first mate, “Venus,” were shipped over from Hamburg, Germany in 1914. They were prolific and had 16 calves. Local residents were immediately infatuated by the creatures and lined up to behold their impressive forms within the temporary hippo house – Galloway Hall. An impressive, permanent home was constructed to display these wonders for the next 40 years. The beautiful white-marble, windowed structure and accompanying pool was a great source of pride for the Zoo. However, over time, the remarkable original structure fell into disrepair and required replacement. The brick structure you saw until recently was constructed in 1955, and housed the hippos until they moved to the all-new, $22.4 million Zambezi exhibit in March 2016.

Adonis outlived Venus, and two additional mates were acquired to continue his genetic legacy. During his lifetime, Adonis sired more than 25 calves. In June, 1956, a young pair was shipped out of Kenya, Africa. When they arrived, zoo staff members were surprised to learn that instead of a male and female, as previously promised, the Memphis Zoo was now a proud owner of two young females. One female was moved into the Hippo House, was named “Josephine,” and became a mate to Adonis (and grandmother to current hippo, “Splish”), while the other female was transferred via railcar to Evansville, Indiana.  Julie, the daughter of Adonis and “Josephine,” was born July 8, 1961, and spent her entire life at the Memphis Zoo.

So has her daughter, Splish. When Julie passed away in 2013, the Memphis Zoo worked with AZA to acquire a new companion for Splish. Binti arrived in 2013 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Uzazi also arrived from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, in 2016.

About the Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo, located in Memphis, Tennessee, is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. Recently named as one of the top zoos in the country by TripAdvisor® and by USA Today, the Memphis Zoo has completed over $93 million in renovations and expansion since the early 1990s. The Zoo’s animal inhabitants reside in one-of-a-kind exhibitry, such as Once Upon A Farm, The Commercial Appeal Cat Country, Primate Canyon, Animals of the Night, Northwest Passage, Teton Trek, CHINA - home to giant pandas YaYa and Le Le, and the all-new Zambezi River Hippo Camp. The Memphis Zoo was founded in 1906 and resides on 70 acres in the middle of Overton Park. It is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Memphis Zoo, YaYa and Le Le are trademarks of the Memphis Zoo.

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Need more info?

Cindy Dupree

Director of Public Relations
cindy.dupree@tn.gov
615) 741-9010