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Hippo With 'Larger-Than-Life Personality' Dies Suddenly At Dallas Zoo

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A beloved hippo named "Adhama" died suddenly Tuesday at the Dallas Zoo.

His keepers, veterinary team and workers who interacted with him are devastated.

They described his mate Boipelo as "subdued and sad" in the initial hours since Adhama's passing.

"From the time he arrived here at the Dallas Zoo, Adhama captivated us all with his curious nature and larger-than-life personality. He was a wonderful ambassador as we opened our Simmons Hippo Outpost and reintroduced hippos to Dallas last year," said Gregg Hudson, President and CEO of the Dallas Zoo. "Our entire team is understandably shaken, given the suddenness of Adhama's passing. Please keep our entire staff in your thoughts during this difficult time."

Adhama arrived at the Dallas Zoo in 2017, when they opened the Simmons Hippo Outpost. (photo credit: Dallas Zoo)

The hippo keepers and veterinary team were monitoring Adhama's health since late last week, after observing some lethargy and a diminished appetite. Adhama spent Monday and Tuesday behind the scenes under observation and resting, but there was nothing to indicate a serious issue, according to the zoo. After hours on Tuesday evening, keepers observed via closed-circuit video that Adhama was non-responsive, and their animal care team responded immediately. The team found that he had passed away suddenly with no external signs of stress or trauma.

The zoo said preliminary findings from the veterinary team indicate severe enteritis, which is an acute inflammation of the intestine. According to the veterinary team, given the condition of Adhama's organs and his fat reserves, this does not appear to have been a long-term illness. The team is continuing to study the situation to learn more, but given the lack of significant symptoms, the team is confident there's nothing they would have done differently.

Adhama and Boipelo came to the Dallas Zoo in March 2017 (from the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens and Albuquerque Zoo, respectively), ahead of the opening of the Zoo's Simmons Hippo Outpost in April. The pair were matched on a breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.

The two quickly bonded and became an adorable pair, enjoying lounging together on the habitat's sand beach or taking naps in the 120,000-gallon pool.

"We know so many people in our extended zoo family share in our sadness since we have enjoyed watching Adhama and Boipelo as their personalities and relationship developed over these last 18-plus months," said Hudson.

Boipelo gave birth to a calf in February 2018, but the calf did not survive. The team is focused on ensuring she is maintaining as much of a routine as possible in spite of the loss of her mate. She will be given access to the habitat starting today, but the zoo staff will follow her lead on her day-to-day availability.

This is the second animal death at the zoo this week. A 15-year-old red river hog named "Hank" passed away due to T-cell lymphoma on Monday.

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