hippos (copy)

Gazette file

Hippos Kasai and Zambizi feed on hay after a training demonstration at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on Aug. 2, 2009.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Two hippo sisters will return this fall to their newly remodeled home in Colorado Springs after spending two years at a Missouri zoo.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that the hippos came to the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Mo., in October 2017 because the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo needed a place to put them while it created a new habitat. The previous Cheyenne Mountain Zoo aquatics exhibit was nearly 60 years old and was due for an upgrade.

The Springfield zoo had space for the sisters, named Zambezi and Kasai, because its beloved hippo, Henry, was moved in 2016 to a new $8 million enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The Springfield zoo’s spokeswoman, Joey Powell, says the sisters were originally supposed to spend just a year in Missouri, but construction delays made their stay last longer. She says they’ve been on “an extended vacation.”

Zambezi is 24 years old and likes melons as a snack. Kasai is 17 and enjoys peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, says cmzoo.org. Hippos can live up to 50 years in captivity.

A significant addition to the habitat will be a male hippo companion for Zambezi and Kasai.

“There is a need for captive hippo breeding programs, and our new exhibit will give us the space to acquire a male hippo and begin a breeding program right here in Colorado Springs,” states the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo website.

Per the zoo, there are only 87 currently hippos on exhibit in the U.S.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s new “Water’s Edge: Africa” exhibit — which will house African penguins, common warthogs, Kenyan crested guinea fowl, Nile hippopotamus and ring-tailed lemurs — is planned to open sometime this fall, said zoo spokeswoman Rachel Wright. No specific date has been set.

See a video of the exhibit construction process and/or make a donation to the project at cmzoo.org/index.php/exhibits-attractions/making-waves/exhibit-construction-progress/. The time-lapse started Sept. 13, 2017 and is updated to within 24 hours of the current date.

It’s unclear exactly when the hippos will return to the Colorado Springs zoo.

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