A big, beautiful bundle of joy has joined the Memphis Zoo family. The Zoo’s Nile Hippopotamus, Binti, gave birth to a healthy girl on March 23.
The 76-pound calf, which is soon-to-be-named, made her public debut April 8.
The Memphis Zoo is asking for help naming the calf. A contest is being held on the Memphis Zoo’s website: www.memphiszoo.org . The contest kicked off Thursday, April 6 and runs through Thursday, April 13 at noon.
“This is one of our most significant births in a long, long time,” said Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs at the Memphis Zoo. “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.”
Mother and baby are bright and alert and can be seen in their new exhibit in Zambezi River Hippo Camp during the mornings.
“Binti is an extremely attentive mother and is very protective of her calf,” said Farshid Mehrdadfar, curator of the Memphis Zoo’s West Zone. “The little lady follows her mom around everywhere, and you can typically find her asleep on Binti’s nose or back.”
This infant is the second for mother, Binti, and first for father, Uzazi. Nineteen-year-old Binti was born at the Denver Zoo. She arrived at Memphis in 2013 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Her name means “daughter,” or “young lady,” in Swahili. Uzazi, the 16-year-old father, arrived at the Memphis Zoo in 2016 in preparation for the opening of Zambezi River Hippo Camp. His name is derived from a Swahili word meaning “good parent.”
This is a significant birth for the Memphis Zoo, and for the greater Hippo population, as only about 79 Hippos are currently on exhibit throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. The species is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List.
For more information on the new calf, as well as the opportunity to vote in the naming contest, visitors are encouraged to visit: www.memphiszoo.org/hippo .
The Memphis Zoo staff has carefully chosen five names for consideration, and the public is encouraged to vote for their favorite name: Venus (in honor of the Zoo’s first female hippo), Cleo (short for Cleopatra), Winnie (“happiness”), Zuri (“beautiful”), or Asha (“lively woman”). The winning name will be announced Friday, April 14 via the Zoo’s social media pages.