DALLAS -- It has been 16 years since the Dallas Zoo has been home to a hippopotamus, but it is now anxiously awaiting a 5,000-pound delivery.
By the end of the month, the zoo is expecting the arrival of Adhama from the Los Angeles Zoo to help christen the brand new 2.1 acre, $14 million hippo exhibit. He will be joined by another female hippo from Albuquerque.
Keith Zdrojewski with the Dallas Zoo said zoo-goers have longed to see hippos, and the zoo now finally has a place to put them.
“We did not want hippos unless it was one of the best exhibits possible. They have been one of the most requested animals over the years,” he said.
The new exhibit will have a 120,000-gallon pool and guests will be able to see the hippos through a 24x8 foot underwater window.
Dallas zookeepers have traveled to LA to begin Adhama’s training, and logistics for his arrival have been planned for more than a year. Zdrojewski said it took time to find the right genetic match in a female partner and crate train the hippos for their transport.
The hippos are given time to get comfortable with their crate before the time comes to lift that crate onto a truck with a forklift and drive them to Dallas.
“We hired one of the best in the business,” said Zdrojewski about Adhama’s transporters. “This is what they do, moving animals from zoo to zoo. They stop every two or three hours, check on them, feed them, give them water, and hose them down and make sure they are doing well.”
Relocating the hippos is not simply about giving people the opportunity to see the world’s third-largest land mammal. The hippo population has been dwindling globally and the two hippos are part of a conservation effort. Adhama and his female companion were specifically picked for each other based on genetic makeup.
Zdrojewski said both hippos are relatively young and the hope is for a new baby hippo to eventually be part of the exhibit.
“Eight or nine months from now, cross our fingers, we will have a baby... but we can’t force that so we will see how that goes," he said.
Copyright 2016 WFAA