MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -Memphis Zoo is celebrating the birth of a baby hippopotamus!
The baby hippo, whose name has not been decided yet, will make her public debut Friday, April 7 at 8 a.m., according to Memphis Zoo.
The baby is the first offspring of Binti and Uzazi, and she's the first hippo born at Memphis Zoo since Splish and Splash were born on Christmas in 1988. Back then, Memphis was known as the "Hippo Capital of the World."
In 2016, zookeepers said they were hopeful the opening of Zambezi River Hippo Camp would help reinvigorate hippo breeding at the zoo.
Mother and baby are bright and alert, and can be seen in their new exhibit in Zambezi River Hippo Camp during the mornings. The Memphis Zoo will open early to members only on Friday, April 7 at 8 a.m. and will open early to the public on Saturday, April 8 at 8 a.m.
“This is one of our most significant births in a long, long time,” Director of Animal Programs Matt Thompson said. “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.”
Only about 79 hippos are on exhibit in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The species is listed as "Vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.
“Binti is an extremely attentive mother, and is very protective of her calf,” Curator of West Zone Farshid Mehrdadfar said. “The little lady follows her mom around everywhere, and you can typically find her asleep on Binti’s nose or back.”
Binti's baby will be named April 14, and you can help select the baby's name! Starting April 6, Memphis Zoo will have a naming contest where people can vote on five possible names for the young hippo.
The possible names are Venus (in honor of the Memphis Zoo's first female hippo), Cleo (short for Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile), Winnie (happiness), Zuri (beautiful), and Asha (lively woman). Click here to vote for your favorite name.