Public to vote on name for baby hippo

Hippopotamus Karen gave birth in July to a baby estimated to be well over 50 pounds. Zoo officials have since determined that the baby is a girl, and they’re holding a contest to name her. (SOURCE: ABQ BioPark)

It’s official. The baby hippo born in July at the ABQ BioPark Zoo is a girl.

Zoo veterinarians were recently able to get a close up view of the baby and determined its sex. And now, the public has an opportunity to name the baby.

The New Mexico BioPark Society is holding a fund-raising baby hippo naming contest in which names can be submitted through Aug. 20 by going to the ABQ BioPark Society Facebook page.

The invitation has already attracted dozens of names, including Petunia, Ruby, Sunny, Gertrude, Bubbles, Bella, Lulu, Hazel, Gladys, Clementine and Penny Potamus.

The team that cares for the zoo’s hippos will select their four favorite names, and then from Aug. 27 through Sept. 10, the public can make a donation in any amount to cast their vote for their favorite among the four selected names, said Danielle Flores Mills, marketing and communications manager for the New Mexico BioPark Society.

The name that raises the most money will be given to the baby hippo, she said.

The public can cast their votes in person at the BioPark Zoo, where two ballot boxes will be set up, or through an online link that will be published on the New Mexico BioPark Society Facebook page.

In addition, contest sponsors, the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Toyota Dealers Association, will have ballot boxes at their dealerships.
The money raised, Flores Mills said, will be used for the maintenance of the hippo habitat at the zoo, as well as for enrichment and overall care of these animals.

While the public can now see the baby hippo, mother Karen and father Moe in their habitat, the zoo has had to remove the gorillas and orangutans from their habitats for treatment and monitoring of a bacterial infection in their digestive tracts. The illness is unrelated to COVID, zoo officials said.

The zoo currently houses eight gorillas and four orangutans. The gorillas and orangutans first showed signs of illness on Aug. 8. They will return to their public habitats as soon as they are feeling better, though no timeline was given.

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