Dallas Zoo begins construction on $14 million hippo habitat

The Dallas Zoo is now beginning work on our new $14 million, 2.1-acre Simmons Hippo Outpost, an immersive African waterhole habitat that includes a giant underwater viewing area for these surprisingly hippo1 schematic FULL COLORagile, super-sized “river horses.”

A 24-foot by 8-foot underwater viewing window will bring guests eye-to-nostril with Nile hippos as they explore the 120,000-gallon waterhole. Such close contact will help us teach millions of guests about conservation efforts on behalf of the world’s third-largest land mammal.

Scheduled to open in spring 2017, the Simmons Hippo Outpost will be our first major exhibit since the award-winning Giants of the Savanna opened in 2010.

“The Simmons Hippo Outpost is a perfect bookend to Giants of the Savanna,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo president and CEO. “It’s been 15 years since we had hippos, and our guests have consistently asked us to bring them back. We’re thrilled to be able to do so, after working on this project for several years.”

“This project is another example of why the Dallas Zoo continues to be such a great part of our hippos2 schematic FULL COLORcommunity, as well as an important and innovative piece of my Grow South initiative,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. “The support from generous philanthropists is key to the successful public-private partnership between the City and the Zoo. This impressive exhibit is sure to bring even bigger things — and I don’t mean just our new 4,000-pound residents.”

The massive mammals –  one male and two females – will be observed from multiple vantage points. Nearby, an upper-level habitat will provide an enhanced home for our world-renowned okapi herd, red river hogs, and saddle-billed storks. Both habitats will be visible from the elevated monorail, the Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari.

Mary McDermott Cook served as the honorary chair of the Simmons Hippo Outpost campaign, which was funded solely with private donations. A $5 million grant from the Harold Simmons Foundation launched the project.

_MG_1033-4x6“Everyone loves hippos, and we’re proud to be a part of their return to the Dallas Zoo,” said Lisa Simmons, president of the Harold Simmons Foundation. “I remember how much fun it was to see them when I visited the Zoo as a child. Also, we are eager to see an outstanding new exhibit at the Zoo that will enhance the visitor’s experience and understanding of the importance of conservation of wild species and their habitats. We’re honored to support the Zoo’s ongoing commitment to excellence through this project.”

Additional generous donations include:

  • Highland Capital Management LP, $1 million: This donation will build the 4,485-square-foot Highland Capital Lodge for special educational displays and private events.
  • Diane and Hal Brierley, $1 million: The longtime philanthropists and Dallas Zoo supporters are building the Hippo Encounter underwater viewing area, where zookeepers talks also will be held.
  • Eugene McDermott Foundation, $500,000: Longtime supporters of the Dallas Zoo.

“At Highland Capital Management, we invest in the community by supporting organizations that are advancing the Dallas area in unique, influential ways,” said James Dondero, co-founder and president of Highland Capital Management, L.P. “The Zoo is exactly that kind of organization and Highland is proud to assist them in bringing exceptional educational opportunities and experiences like the upcoming exhibit to Dallas.”_MG_1014-4x6

Exclusive donor society created

The Dallas Zoo also has created a special opportunity for donors to put finishing touches on the project. Members of the Kiboko Society will receive exclusive benefits, including permanent recognition within the exhibit. Membership in the Society is a limited-time opportunity, available only until the Simmons Hippo Outpost opens in 2017.

Donor levels for the Kiboko Society are:

  • Hippo – $50,000
  • Okapi – $25,000
  • Saddle-billed Stork – $10,000
Categories: Exhibits and Experiences | Tags: , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Dallas Zoo begins construction on $14 million hippo habitat

  1. Sue HOpf

    Sounds wonderful!!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. It’s good to see the hippos making their return to a new habitat area. When it comes to housing larger animals, you already have to construct a big area for them, so there’s a lot of room to add cool features like the underwater viewing area, where the hippos’ talents really shine.

  3. James C. Paw

    Any idea as to where the hippos are coming from???

    • Dallas Zoo

      Hi James, we do have a good idea. We’ll be talking more about the hippos in the coming months. Stay tuned!

      • James C. Paw

        Sorry for the late reply. Thanks for replying. So, where are they coming? don’t seem to see any news on it. I belong to the Hippolotofus society and we might be able to put Dallas on one of our annual reunion. This year we are going to Cincinnati zoo to visit Henry the Hippo. Is the opening firm for this Spring? I might go to Dallas this July if it will open!

        • Dallas Zoo

          Hi, James. We haven’t announced where the hippos are coming from since their zoos haven’t told their visitors yet. (We don’t want to undercut their news!) We’re aiming to open late April/early May. More details to come. We hope you can make it out this summer to meet our hippos!

  4. Love the idea! This will be a great addition to the zoo. I’d take my family to see the Hippos.

  5. Pingback: World Okapi Day: Celebrating our remarkable history | Dallas ZooHoo!

  6. Mary Cooper


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