51-year-old hippo dies at Memphis Zoo - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

51-year-old hippo dies at Memphis Zoo

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(Source: Memphis Zoo) (Source: Memphis Zoo)
(Source: Memphis Zoo) (Source: Memphis Zoo)

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis Zoo is mourning the loss of Julie the hippopotamus. The 51-year-old hippo was euthanized Saturday after zoo keepers noticed her health dramatically decline over the past month.

Julie the hippopotamus was born at the Memphis Zoo in July 1961. In her 51 years, she had 10 calves, including a set of twins who became well known around Memphis as "Splish" and "Splash".

"Julie was able to take care of herself," said Memphis Zoo Assistant Curator Houston Winbigler. "She never tolerated too much roughness from her mate. She was, indeed, a remarkable mother and took admirable care of all of her babies including the twins, Splish and Splash."

Several of Julie's caretakers at the zoo are sad to learn of her passing.

"During my zoo career I've had the fortune to work with four hippos," said Herb Roberts, Memphis Zoo curator. "Julie by far had the best temperament. She was calm, reliable and easy to work with. She enjoyed spending time with her keepers as well as her daughter Splish. I think she considered them all part of her herd. I know she was part of my herd, and I will miss her greatly."

"Julie has been one of the zoo favorites," said Gail Karr, Memphis Zoo Assistant Curator. "I have been at the Memphis Zoo 27 years. In a way, I grew up with her. She has been a figurehead, and it will be hard to imagine her not here."

"It was a privilege getting to work with Julie and a great experience as a keeper," said Sara Taylor, Memphis Zoo keeper. "She was feisty until the end. She will definitely be missed by my co-worker, Dena Mandino and me, but most importantly by her sassy daughter, Splish. We hope our Julie has gone to a new swimming hole and is busy frolicking with the Memphis Zoo hippos that went before her."

"She was a great animal with an engaging personality and has aged gracefully. She will be missed, but her line and that of the original Memphis Zoo hippos will hopefully be continued through Splish," agreed Carol Hesch, Memphis Zoo assistant curator.

Julie was preceded in death by her mate, Ubei, who died from arthritis-related problems in 1995.

"We hope our Julie has gone to a new swimming hole and is busy frolicking with the Memphis Zoo hippos that went before her," added zoo keeper Sara Taylor.

The Memphis Zoo will work with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to acquire a new companion for Splish at the zoo's hippo exhibit.

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