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  1. #1's Avatar is offline WDW: A History In Postcards
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Charlotte NC

    Animal Kingdom Hippo trivia

    I was searching the internet for a very specific piece of WDW information and stumbled onto the following by accident, its from the site

    I heard an old song on the radio the other day – Atlanta has two stations that play Christmas music 24x7 from Thanksgiving through Christmas Day – called, “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”

    Loved it!

    It is one of those crazy little songs that “sticks with you” throughout the whole day – you find yourself humming to it without end.

    Listen to it at

    Or at where you can also download a MP3 of the song.

    If you have kids – they may even love it as much as you do

    :- )

    Well, a little research and we find that it was recorded by Gayla Peevey in 1950.

    A little more background

    Hip, hippo, hooray! Great couples throughout history have called the Walt Disney World™ Resort their home: Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Beauty and the Beast and now Norman and Matilda?! That's right. The Oklahoma City Zoo's resident Nile hippopotamus Norman and Matilda are moving to Disney's Animal Kingdom™ Theme Park at the Walt Disney World™ Resort near Orlando, Florida.

    Gift wrapped for delivery on December 24, 1953, Matilda was the first hippopotamus to ever grace the then Lincoln Park Zoo. A nation wide hit song entitled "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" performed by Oklahoma City's own ten-year-old Gayla Peevey helped the Zoo raise funds for Matilda. The $3,000 needed to buy her was collected in 13 days with contributions coming in from around Oklahoma, across the nation and even other countries. The year-and-a-half 700-pound Matilda was visited by over 5,000 people on Christmas Day. Those catching a glimpse of the Zoo's newest sweetheart must have had a short visit as Matilda's temporary quarters held only ten people at a time. She was later moved to her permanent home in the Zoo's Pachyderm building in the 1960's. Norman, the Zoo's 30-year-old male arrived in August 1967 and sired nine offspring with Matilda.

    "This is a wonderful opportunity for these two animals to join a large social grouping of hippos in a naturalistic environment", said Steve Wylie, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Zoo. "Their current housing does not allow for both animals to be outside together. " Wylie added. Disney's Animal Kingdom™ Theme Park is scheduled to open Spring, 1998. The new hippo habitat immerses visitors into the wilds of Africa. Travelers to this environment can discover hippos in an expansive river setting complete with islands and lush vegetation. Wylie concludes, "Although Norman and Matilda will be missed in Oklahoma City, their quality of life will be greatly enhanced by this move."

    Hippopotamus inhabit the rivers and lakes of West, Central and East Africa. They can reach sizes of up to 11 feet long and five feet in height and can weigh up to 7,000 pounds. Their main threats to survival are human encroachment, loss of habitat, pollution and the ivory trade.

    Little more background on Gayla? From a 1999 email


    I received an email from Gayla Peevey, and she would like to share this with you:

    ''I live in San Diego, Ca. with my husband of 36 years. We have a grown daughter who is a staff songwriter for Disney. Her professional name is Sydney Forest. I graduated from San Diego State University , and got a teaching credential, but didn't like teaching, so I quit and went into advertising. I had my own cottage ad agency for about 15 years. I was a media buyer, wrote and produced a lot of jingles, radio spots, etc. Now, I am having a great time writing songs, painting (watercolor mostly) , and reading books. Of course, church is a big part of our lives. We attend a Baptist church and enjoy being part of the music ministry there. It's been a wonderful life so far, I feel really blessed.''

    The Lyrics follow:

    I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

    I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
    Only a hippopotamus will do
    Don't want a doll, no dinky Tinker Toy
    I want a hippopotamus to play with and enjoy

    I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
    I don't think Santa Claus will mind, do you?
    He won't have to use our dirty chimney flue
    Just bring him through the front door,
    that's the easy thing to do

    I can see me now on Christmas morning,
    creeping down the stairs
    Oh what joy and what surprise
    when I open up my eyes
    to see a hippo hero standing there

    I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
    Only a hippopotamus will do
    No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses
    I only like hippopotamuses
    And hippopotamuses like me too

    Mom says the hippo would eat me up, but then
    Teacher says a hippo is a vegeterian

    There's lots of room for him in our two-car garage
    I'd feed him there and wash him there and give him his massage

    I can see me now on Christmas morning,
    creeping down the stairs
    Oh what joy and what surprise
    when I open up my eyes
    to see a hippo hero standing there

    I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
    Only a hippopotamus will do
    No crocodiles or rhinoceroseses
    I only like hippopotamuseses
    And hippopotamuses like me too!


    Walt Disney World: A History in Postcards

  2. #2
    iwannabeminnie's Avatar
    iwannabeminnie is offline I'm old! I'm like the cryptkeeper!
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Berne, IN
    Thank you so much Brian! That made my day! I went around for weeks before Christmas singing that song! How special to know the background story.

    I want a hippopotamus for Christmas!

  3. #3
    Jiminy Cricket's Avatar
    Jiminy Cricket is offline Ultimate Park "Hopper"
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    1,015 miles from WDW in Central Indiana; Windermere FL
    I thought the hippos at the AK looked familiar. Thanx for the wonderful info.
    Lord High Keeper of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong, Counselor in Moments of Temptation, and Guide along the Straight and Narrow Path and Oldest Active DWT/WDW Radio Member

    DL: 1955* (1); WDW: 1977* (2), 1980* (2), 1985* (3), 1989* (3), 1996 (ASMu-3), 1999 (ASMo-3), 2000 (ASMu-2/PO-2), 2001 (ASMu-5), 2002 (ASMu-5), 2003 (ASMo-5), 2004* (8), 2004 (ASMo-8), 2005 (PC-10), 2006* (15), 2007* (20), 2008* (22), 2009* (26), 2010* (27), 2011* (32), 2012* (39), 2013* (36), 2013* (15), 2013* (9), 2013* (13), 2014* (40) 2014* (20) 2015* (3) Total Trips/Days = 28/380

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