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Beloved Hippo and Former Springfield Resident, Henry, Loses Battle with Illness

Henry the Hippo, who called Springfield's Dickerson Park Zoo home for 34 years, but who was moved last year to a new hippo exhibit, Hippo Cove, at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens has died.

According to the Cincinnati Zoo Facebook page, the 36-year-old Henry had been struggling with health issues for months and had lost hundreds of pounds.  Vet staff, who had been carefully monitoring him say he "took an obvious downward turn in the past few days and was weak and unsteady."  Zoo officials say, "after an exam this morning, they determined that Henry’s quality of life would not improve and made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him."

“The blood work from Henry’s last exam gave us some hope that he was on the mend, but his appetite never returned and his condition declined rapidly.  Vets and his care team worked tirelessly to keep him comfortable and help him fight this illness. Nothing–-antibiotics, favorite foods, extra TLC-–seemed to turn his condition around,” said Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo’s Curator of Mammals.  “We are all so sad to lose him.  Everyone loved him. He was a sweet, gentle giant with a big personality. He enjoyed interacting with his caregivers.”

Henry and the zoo's 18-year-old female, who came to Cincinnati from the St. Louis Zoo, were the parents of Fiona, who became famous after she survived a premature birth.  According to zoo officials, "he couldn’t have left a better legacy."

“After watching Fiona fight, defy the odds and literally make history, it feels especially unfair and defeating to have to accept this outcome for Henry. While our time with him has been short in quantity, no one can deny that his quality of life before becoming ill was exceptional. From meeting, bonding and breeding with his mate Bibi, to becoming a father to charismatic and spirited Fiona, Henry’s days in Cincinnati were filled with sunshine, watermelons, waterfalls and the highest quality of care that can be provided to any animal,” said Wendy Rice, Africa Head Keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Henry was seven-months-old when he was brought to live at Dickerson Park Zoo.  Staff there are mourning the beloved hippo.  

“We are all saddened with Henry’s death. He was undoubtedly the most popular animal at Dickerson Park Zoo,” said Zoo Director Mike Crocker. “The outpouring of messages from social media, guests, letters and phone calls shows how much Henry meant to our community.” 

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