Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What Child Is This?

A 50-pound bouncing baby hippo was born on Christmas morning in Gulf Breeze, the Pensacola News Journal is reporting.

Mother, Cleopatra, and child are resting comfortably for now at the Gulf Breeze Zoo Northwest Florida Zoological Park and Botanical Gardens.

The father, Kiboko, is under a no-contact restraining order.

The new hippo will be named after its sex is determined. According to the News Journal, "Zoo tradition dictates that whoever finds the baby gets to name it."

Zoo keeper Rob Free found the new hippo unexectedly:
About 8 a.m. on Christmas Day, Free was about to feed Cleopatra her grains, nuts and fruits when he noticed that there was a lump about the size of an overnight duffel bag next to the hippo. It had the pinkish-gray hue.

But obviously, it was not a part of Cleopatra," he said.

When he realized it was a baby hippo, Free was ecstatic.

"Who else gets a hippo for Christmas?" he asked.
Free says he's thinking over "something Egyptian... and something I can pronounce."

Not to rain on this parade, but maybe Mr. Free and the zoo should consider abandoning the accidental-finders-are-namers policy just this once. Making a big to-do over the naming rights could jump-start a much-needed public fund raiser for the recently renamed zoo.

Raffle tickets, or name-nomination forms accompanied with entry fees, or just inviting kids to write a name on the back of buck, all spring to mind. Heck, if the Hall of Fame football bowl can make millions by renaming itself after a restaurant chain, the Zoo ought to be able to raise a little dough over the hippo's name.

Among the priorities for new funds might be building a Hippoquarium, as at Toledo Zoo.

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