Happy enjoys spending time in his outdoor habitat.
During the fall months, the Dohmen Family Foundation Hippo Haven is open through October, weather permitting.
The habitat, which was completed last year, is home to the Zoo’s two hippopotamus – 40-year-old male, Happy, and 52-year-old female, Patti. The outdoor pool was filled a few weeks ago, and Happy has since made his return to the outdoor habitat, to the delight of visitors.
Since he’s had access to the outdoor pool again, Happy has been eager to go outside and appears to be enjoying his time outdoors. When the habitat opened last summer, it took him some time to get used to shifting outside, but this year he quickly remembered his routine and has been shifting out easily and eagerly. He has even been reluctant to leave the pool on particularly warm days.
Happy is often curious about the public and spends some of his time watching visitors watch him. Zookeepers have even noticed Happy watching kids through the glass of the underwater viewing tank and seemingly appear to follow them across the habitat. At other times, he can be found napping in a few of his favorite spots in the 70-degree water.
Patti, on the other hand, has not yet shown interest in exploring the new habitat, but zookeepers will continue to give her opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in whichever way she prefers.
Hippo Haven allows visitors an up-close experience with the resident hippos. The 60,000-gallon underwater viewing tank is the centerpiece of the habitat. It allows visitors to gain a unique perspective of these magnificent, powerful animals. The pool, or watering hole, has varied depths and reaches 7-feet at the deepest. It includes two entrances for the animals, sloped rocks and ramps, a resting platform, and a water cannon for zookeepers to use as an enrichment option.
Hippos spend at least 16 hours each day underwater, so in the past, visitors may have only caught a glimpse of the top of the hippos’ heads when in the outdoor habitat. The new underwater viewing tank, spanning 85-feet in length, provides visitors more opportunities to see the hippos and their behaviors.
The 3,500-square-foot beach area features several different sand surfaces, giving the hippos the choice of where they’d like to lie. The beach includes varied propping items such as anchored artificial logs.
Hippo Haven is open seasonally, from April through October.