The Dallas Zoo is celebrating the opening of its new home for hippos.
The $14 million Simmons Hippo Outpost is 2.1 acres of stimulating and authentic African waterhole fun for hippos Adhama and Boipelo, the newest members of the Dallas Zoo family.
A window built into the 120,000-gallon waterhole in the habitat gives zoo guests a chance to view the 'river horses' underwater.
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"We're confident that being face-to-face with a submerged, 3,000 pound hippo will be a highlight for our guests," said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo President and CEO. "Even more importantly, this new experience will help our community better understand the critical need for conservation of all species and wild spaces."
The new exhibit is the zoo's first since the Giants of the Savannah opened in 2010.
To celebrate the opening, special events will happen throughout the weekend, including a special hippo toy to the first 500 guests Friday, Saturday and Sunday and opportunities for hippo-themed pictures and crafts. Reunion Tower in Dallas will light up the skyline at dusk on Friday with a special light show to commemorate the event.
"The Dallas Zoo has once again set the standard for today's accredited zoological parks," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. "This project is the latest example of how successful public-private partnerships can be, especially when supported by our city's generous philanthropists."
The opening of the habitat also marks the return of okapi to the zoo. The endangered species, often referred to as "forest giraffes" in their native Congo, will reside in a special upper section of the habitat. The Dallas Zoo has one of the most successful records of breeding for this species, and currently houses five.