Memphis Zoo Wants Help Naming Baby Hippo

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CN) – It’s a girl – the Memphis Zoo said it will name a newborn female hippopotamus, born two weeks ago weighing a healthy 76 pounds, based on the result of an online poll that runs through next week.

Mother “Binti,” a 19-year-old Nile hippopotamus, gave birth to the girl March 23, and the baby made her public debut at the zoo Friday morning.

But she doesn’t have a name yet, as the Memphis Zoo will name her based on the winner of an online naming contest. The poll began Thursday and will end April 13 at noon local time.

The name choices are Venus, in honor of the zoo’s first female hippo; Cleo, short for Cleopatra; Winnie, meaning happiness; Zuri, which means beautiful in Swahili; and Asha, meaning lively woman.

Matt Thompson, the zoo’s director of animal programs, said it “is one of our most significant births in a long, long time.”

“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,” Thompson said in a statement.

Curator Farshid Mehrdadfar said, “Binti is an extremely attentive mother, and is very protective of her calf. The little lady follows her mom around everywhere, and you can typically find her asleep on Binti’s nose or back.”

The newborn is Binti’s second baby and the first for 16-year-old father Uzazi.

The Memphis Zoo says only about 79 hippos are currently on exhibit in North American zoos.

The first two hippos to come to the Memphis Zoo were Adonis and Venus, who were shipped over from Germany in 1914. They had 16 calves together, part of the reason Memphis was once called the “Hippo Capital of the World.”

The name for Binti’s newborn will be announced Friday, April 14 on the zoo’s social media pages.

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