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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas Zoo welcomed a pair of super-sized Nile hippopotamuses Tuesday and Wednesday from Albuquerque, New Mexico and Los Angeles.
“Adhama” and “Boipelo” are now sharing the barn and pools in the zoo’s new $14 million Simmons Hippo Outpost, set to open next month.
“The moves were smooth and uneventful, and our new residents have settled in nicely into their new home,” said Harrison Edell, vice president of Animal Operations and Welfare at the Dallas Zoo.
Six-year-old male Adhama arrived Tuesday morning from the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The 3,722-pound hippo was loaded safely into a massive custom travel crate on an 18-wheeler Monday for the 23-hour drive, the Dallas Zoo said in a news release.
The tandem driver team drove straight through, stopping often to feed, water, and spray water on the giant amphibious animals.
Once Adhama’s travel crate was lifted off the truck and taken to the new hippo barn, he wandered right out and into a sand-filled outdoor yard, the zoo said.
Keepers met him with fresh romaine lettuce and other treats. The big guy inspected every inch of the barn, room by room, before taking a snuffling drink from one of the indoor pools. Soon after, he slipped into his private pool. (The amphibious animals often choose to spend up to 16 hours a day in water.)
The driver team then hit the road again, this time to the Albuquerque Biological Park. There, zookeepers loaded 10-year-old, 2,395-pound female Boipelo, and the drivers took off once more for Dallas.
Late Wednesday night, less than 36 hours after Adhama arrived, Boipelo made her entrance.
After stepping out of her travel crate, the zoo said she cautiously made a few rounds of the outdoor yard, then entered the night quarters, nabbed a few bites of romaine lettuce, and immediately plunged into her pool.
Adhama was instantly interested in his new mate, leaving his pool and sniffing the air intently. The pair have been matched on a breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.
“Over the next 30 days while the hippos are in quarantine, our keepers, veterinary staff and nutritionists will keep a close eye on them to ensure they continue to do well,” Edell said. “For now they’re living in separate halves of the new barn, but because of its open design, they’ve already ‘met’ each other through the fences and are getting along well.”
The zoo says the 2.1-acre Simmons Hippo Outpost is an immersive African waterhole habitat that includes a 24-foot by 8-foot underwater viewing area, which will allow zookeepers to teach guests about conservation efforts to help protect the world’s third-largest land mammal.
Papa, who passed away in 2001 at age of 53, was the last hippo to live at the zoo until now.
At the time, Papa was the oldest Nile hippo being cared for in a U.S. zoo.