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Feb. 5, 2023
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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Zambezi River Hippo Camp
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Your Passport to

Zambezi River Hippo Camp



What animal has zebra-like stripes on their legs, a long, giraffe-like neck, and their own secret language? Even though that sounds like it could be the beginning of a children’s joke, we’re talking about the okapi.

In the wild, these animals are only found in a small, northeast region of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Beginning in March 2016, visitors to Memphis Zoo will be able to see them in the Zambezi River Hippo Camp.

“We are very excited to add okapi to our collection,” Matt Thompson, Memphis Zoo CEO, said. “These unusual animals will add an exciting layer to our exhibit.”

Okapis, while similar in looks to zebras, are actually related to giraffes. They are around six feet in height at the shoulder and weigh between 400 and 700 pounds. Like their taller cousins, okapis walk with a pacing gait. A pacing gait is when the two legs on each side of their body move together.

An okapi’s tongue, much like a giraffe’s, is prehensiled. This means their tongue is capable of reaching and grasping foliage. It’s also blue. Visitors may even see an okapi lick their own ears. They are one of the only mammals that can do so!

“Unlike our giraffes that live in herds, okapi prefer to live in small groups or alone,” Thompson said.

Other unique features of okapi physiology are their large ears. Even though they have

excellent eyesight, they mainly use their large ears to listen for friends and foe. In 2008, researchers from San Diego Zoo discovered that okapis have a secret language made up of whistles, bleats and coughs. In fact, human ears cannot pick up most of the sounds that okapis make. Neither can many of their predators, making it an efficient way to communicate.

The secret language, the extra-long tongue and neck and the zebra-like stripes are just three of the many reasons okapis are so unique. 

Quick Facts

Quick Facts

Like giraffe they have a long, semi-prehensile tongue which they use to strip leaves off of trees and plants.



Nyala are members of the antelope family. Male nyala are somewhat shaggy, have yellow-tipped, long, spiral horns, and can weigh up to 275 lbs. Females do not have horns and have a short-haired coat. The junveile males look like the females. It is thought that this camouflages the young males and protects them from teh jealous eyes of dominant bulls. The young males are therefore allowed to grow up peacefully under the protection of the herd. 

These animals are not territorial, and can be found in herds of up to 30 individuals. Generally, males and females live in separate herds, with the males being more transitory.

In fact, nyala have been known to follow some animals while they eat – such as troops of baboons – to pick up leftover fruit that has been dropped to the ground. 


Nile Crocodile

The Nile crocodile is the largest crocodile species in Africa and the second largest in the world.

There are 23 species of crocodile-like animals. There are eight alligator species, one gharial species and 14 crocodile species.

Alligators, which include caimans, are distinct from crocodiles; both the snout shape and the “toothy grin” are different. Crocodiles have V-shaped snouts, while alligators have U-shaped snouts. When an alligator has its mouth shut, almost all of its teeth are hidden, because the large upper jaw covers them. Crocodiles, however, have a “toothy grin,” meaning the fourth tooth on each side is visible when the mouth is shut.

The gharial is distinct from both alligators and crocodiles. The biggest difference between crocodiles and gharials is the long, thin snout of the latter. 

These reptiles are known for their extreme size. On average, Nile crocodiles range from 10-14 feet, and weigh around 500 pounds. They have been known, however, to get up to 20 feet and reach weights of 1,600 pounds. 

It's hard to believe that such massive creatures start so small. Nile crocs, like many other reptiles, lay eggs. They dig holes along sandy riverbanks, and the female deposits 20-80 eggs at a time. The incubation period is about 90 days, and the mother never strays far from her nest. Unlike other reptiles, however, Nile crocodile parents are extremely hands- (or mouth) on. Mother Nile crocodiles gently pick up and roll eggs into their mouths, helping their young break free from the eggs. They also stick around after the babies have hatched – sometimes staying with their young for six weeks. 

When Nile crocodiles are young, they eat small insects. As they grow, their appetite increases – along with the size of their prey. While fish are everyday staples to their diets, adult Nile crocodiles have been known to take down extremely large animals, including warthogs, cape bufflaoes, hippos and giraffes. They are even known as man-eaters in some parts of their territory.

No need to worry about that when you come to Memphis Zoo, though. Zambezi River HIppo Camp features an underwater viewing area for the crocodiles. 

Quick Facts

Quick Facts

Difference between Crocs and Alligators: Crocs have a V shaped snout; Gators have a U-shaped snout. When the mouth is closed, Croc’s teeth are outside the mouth, (the fourth tooth) and alligators are inside.



Mandrills are the largest and most colorful of all Old World monkeys. Males have brighter coloration than females – the brighter the colors, the more dominant the male. These colors show up on their face and on their rump. The coloration of the backside helps keep the group together as they travel through the dense forest they call home. 

Mandrills are omnivores, and eat a variety of foods, ranging from nuts and seeds to small animals, including duikers and tortoises. Males forage on the ground, while females, their young and juveniles forage in the trees. As gatherers, they sometimes collect food in pouches inside their cheeks, to eat at a later time. 

These monkeys live in small groups, also known as hordes. These hordes are noisy when they travel and forage for food. The average size of a group is around 20 individuals. Each group is led by a single, dominant male. The largest documented horde numbered over 1,300 individuals. 

"Babu," "Kimani," and "Gertrude" call Zambezi River HIppo Camp home.



Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius

The hippopotamus, a Greek name meaning “river horse,” spends most of its time in shallow bodies of water in central Africa. These large mammals can swim with their eyes and nostrils above water, allowing them to be almost entirely submerged. Hippos can even hold their breath underwater for more than five minutes at a time. Hippos can be very dangerous in the wild as they are extremely territorial.

About Memphis Zoo's Hippos

Hippos have a very rich history at Memphis Zoo with a lineage dating back to their first arrival in 1914. The Zoo currently houses two female hippos, “Splish” and “Binti.” Splish comes from a long line of Memphis hippos, including a male name “Adonis” who sired 25 calves during his time in Memphis, dubbing Memphis the “Hippo Capital of the World.” Binti came to Memphis from Disney’s Animal Kingdom and gets along well with her exhibit mate Splish. "Uzazi," the Zoo's male hippo, arrived in 2016 from Disney's Animal Kingdom. 

In March 2017, "Winnie," was born to parents Binti and Uzazi. Winnie and Binti can be found on exhibit.

Quick Facts


"Vulnerable", population decreasing


Located in eastern central Africa


These animals are herbivores and graze for miles in the wild.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Hippos’ large, rotund bodies, and their eyes and nose positioned on the top of their head and nostrils makes them perfectly fit for basking in rivers and lakes. Their features are very unique and easy to distinguish.


Hippos can weigh between 5,000 to 8,000 lbs.



Did you know that a flock of flamingos is also known as a stand? These finely feathered friends, who can spend up to one-third of their day preening, are one of the six species of flamingos. The six species have a wide range, as they can be found on all contientents except Antarctica.

Of the six species, there are two "Old World," and four "New World" flamingos. "Old World" can be found in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and even some parts of Europe. "New World" flamingos can be found in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. 

We currently have 70 flamingos in our stand. We have 39 Chilean, which has a range from Peru to Brazil, and can be found from sea level to 14,000 feet in the Andean mountains. Their ability to adapt to extreme conditions make them excellent birds for Memphis' heat and frigid temperatures. 

We also have 31 lesser flamingos. The lesser is the smallest of all flamingos. While found throughout Africa, lesser flamingos can also be found in small pockets of Asia, India and Pakistan. 


 up to 250 (banquet seating for 78). “Perfect for” and “pricing” is good. Amenities: add restrooms in building. Includes: 78 chairs, 13 48” round tables, and 6 cabaret tables.