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How to Train Your Hippo: 101

As we’re sure you can imagine, moving a hippo into a new exhibit is not an easy task. But, moving TWO hippos into a new exhibit takes twice the effort. To transfer our beloved "Binti" and "Splish" into their new humble abode at the Zambezi River Hippo Camp (opening this spring), keepers Dena and Mandino will put each hippo in a 15’ x 5’ wooden crate that will then be lifted by a crane and carefully placed inside their new habitat.   

Crate training may seem unusual to the average animal lover, but it’s a very common way to prepare large animals at zoos across the country for transportation. The keys are consistency, time and patience – lots and lots of patience. It can take a while to get animals to come to terms with “the crate,” especially ones as strong-willed as our diva hippos. To prepare Binti and Splish for the big move, keepers placed the crate inside their current home so they would become familiar with it. Strategically positioned at the entrance of their night house, the crate serves as a runway for the animals to walk through as they move between their night house and exhibit.   

The girls were a bit unsure of the large crate at first, but now love to take long naps inside of it, oftentimes “fighting” over who gets to snooze in it first. Clearly, our end goal of getting the duo into the crate willingly and without reward was a success. This allows the animals to be transported successfully and almost voluntarily while lowering the risk of injury and stress to themselves and their keepers. 


Next time you visit the Zoo, stop by the hippo house and see if you can catch Binti trying to lure Splish out of the crate so she can take her daily nap. They sure are a funny pair! Be sure to watch their antics on Twitter at @Hippos901 too!  


Posted by Zoo Info at 5:27 PM