Update: Her name is Winnie!
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 be make her debut on exhibit Friday, April 7 at 8 a.m. The Memphis Zoo is asking for help naming the infant – a naming contest will be held on the Memphis Zoo’s website. The contest kicks off Thursday, April 6 at noon and runs through Thursday, April 13 at noon. Update: Voting is now closed.
“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. 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.
“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 on the baby, as well as the opportunity to vote in a naming contest, visitors are encouraged to visit memphiszoo.org/hippo. The Memphis Zoo staff has carefully chosen five names for consideration, and the public is encouraged to vote for their favorite name. The naming contest begins April 6. Voting will take place between Thursday, April 6 and Thursday, April 13 on the Memphis Zoo’s website. Update: Voting is now closed.The final name will be announced Friday, April 14 via the Zoo’s social media pages.
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 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.