The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s hippo sisters will soon return from their luxurious Springfield, Mo. vacation.
Zambezi, 24, and Kasai, 17, were transferred to the Dickerson Park Zoo in October 2017 while their nearly 60-year-old exhibit in Colorado Springs underwent a serious makeover.
The hippo sisters moved into the old digs of a male hippo named Henry, who had moved to the Cincinnati Zoo and fathered the internet-famous Fiona.
"They reached out to us knowing we had a place where they could stay," said Joey Powell, the spokesperson with the Dickerson Park Zoo.
Both zoos are accredited with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Now that Cheyenne Mountain's new multi-million dollar Water’s Edge: Africa habitat is almost done and the sisters have gotten their fill of living six degrees from stardom, they’ll soon make their way home.
"We say they have had an extended vacation in Springfield, Mo.," Powell said.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s African penguin flock was also relocated during the remodel.
The Water’s Edge exhibit wasn’t just an aesthetic improvement. The new space will expand the area for the animals to roam, reduce the zoo’s water usage (a staggering 60,000 gallons per day) and help support breeding programs.
With just 87 captive hippos in United States zoos, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is eager to turn one or both of the hippo sisters into aunts. Among lemurs, warthogs and gazelle, another new addition to the habitat will be a male hippo for Zambezi and Kasai.
“Nile hippos and African penguins face surmounting threats in the wild, so it’s important that we try to inspire people to take conservation action on behalf of these, and other, species,” the website reads.
How do you move two 3,000-pound hippos over 700 miles? In climate-controlled crates on semis. Keepers at the Springfield zoo have been training Zambezi and Kasai to walk through a tunnel and stay put in a crate, Powell said. Keepers from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will fly into Missouri to help with the move, too.
"They’re not stressed out about it," Powell said.
Zambezi, the older sister, prefers munching on melons, while Kasai prefers peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.