It’s not every day you see a new hippopotamus enter the world — especially a pygmy hippopotamus, given their status as an endangered species. But just such a blessed event occurred at the Franklin Park Zoo last month, and you can be the one to name the lucky not-so-little fella. If your pockets are deep enough, that is.
The zoo — which welcomed the 13-pound hungry hungry hippo Oct. 5 after “years of work, careful planning and dedication” by the Boston zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff — is taking advantage of the opportunity by auctioning off naming rights for the new addition, to benefit the All for Our Animals Fund.
Hippo-naming can be a challenging endeavor, though, owing at least partially to the dearth of pop-culture hippopotami to lean on. In fact, we can only think of three off the top of our heads:
1) Henrietta Hippo. A staple on “New Zoo Review” (“coming right at you,” as the theme song went) back in the 1970s, Henrietta was a demure Southern belle hippo known for her good manners, distractingly oversized nostrils, and affection for polka-dotted dresses. We thought she might have actually been a fever dream, but she’s on Wikipedia, so she was for real. Of course, the Franklin Zoo’s new hippo is male, so Henry might be more appropriate a name than Henrietta — but who are we to judge?
2) Peter Potamus. Even further removed in the pop culture ether, this Hanna-Barbera character hit the airwaves way back in 1964, when the only one interested in preserving endangered species was Jane Goodall. Peter had a monkey sidekick and a time-traveling hot-air balloon, and wore a safari helmet. Ringing any bells? No? (In retrospect the show might be better remembered for the medieval dog trio of Yippee, Yappee, and Yahooey. Or maybe that’s just us.)
3) Gloria. By far the most contemporary of this trio, the “Madagascar” star wears neither a dress nor a safari helmet, rather presenting herself as God intended in all her gray glory. She has a few things going against her in the naming department, though, in that she too has a typically female appellation and, also, is “Gloria” really a good name for a hippo? When we hear that name we tend to picture a savvy political analyst … But then again we’ve been watching a lot of CNN lately.
(And yes, we know there was a hippo in “Fantasia,” but who can pronounces “Hyacinth”?)
So you’ll have to be creative if you’re lucky enough to win the bidding. (Also please note that the zoo says COVID-related and political names are verboten, so “Quarantina” is out, and “Magaline” is WAY out.) You can read more about the new hippo’s story at the Franklin Park Zoo website, and place your bid (current high bid as of Friday afternoon: $1,500) here.
Scroll down for your chance to offer your own suggestions, and meanwhile, here’s a song that may inspire your naming efforts: