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Hippo Haven

Meet Hippos Button and Genny

Meet the region’s largest residents: Button and Genny, the 2-ton Nile hippos that call Adventure Aquarium home.

Born July 10 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, 13-year-old Genny is an easy-going hippo. She trains quickly and is eager to learn. Born March 22 at Parque Zoological de Leon in Mexico, 17-year-old Button is comfortable with her trainers once she gets to know them. She can quickly pick up new behaviors and seems to enjoy training when she is not in one of her “fickle” phases. Although from first glance they might look a lot alike, they’re actually quite easy to tell apart. Genny is much larger than Button. Genny weighs in at a whopping 4,216 pounds, whereas Button weighs in at just about 3,096 pounds. This is easy to see on land. When they are submerged it is harder to see the size difference so their eyes are the best way to distinguish them under water. Genny’s eyes are slightly more prominent than Button’s, and Genny has bumps between her ears.

Check out these hippo-sized fun facts below:

    • You might not guess it due to their immense size, but hippos are actually herbivores, meaning they prefer a diet of grains, Timothy hay, fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. They eat 70,000 calories a day, which comes out to 35-40 pounds of food a day. You and I would have to eat about 115 Philly Cheesesteaks to eat that many calories!
    • A lot of animals will exhibit what is known as a “swim pattern” – an animal’s specific preference to swim in a particular way. You might notice that Genny likes to jump up and down whereas Button prefers to swim in a circle.
    • The staff at Adventure Aquarium provides a very enriching environment for all our animals, in order to keep the animals mentally stimulated and to provide physical exercise. The hippos specifically are given things like tractor tires and large driftwood for them to interact with and manipulate. There is not much you can give a hippo that they will not destroy!
    • Our biologists work hard to give proper training to hippos Button and Genny, and as a result, they both know several different behaviors. For example, they know are to open their mouths, put their heads up and hold it, lay down, and also to follow and touch a target pole! You can see some of these behaviors in person during our daily Hippo Feed & Talk.
    • Even though they so closely physically resemble pigs and other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, the hippo's closest living relatives are cetaceans (whales, porpoises, etc.). They're the third largest land mammals by weight (between 1½ and 3 tons), behind the white rhinoceros and the three species of elephant.
    • Despite their stocky shape and short legs, hippos can easily outrun a human; having been clocked at 19 mph over short distances. The hippopotamus is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is often regarded as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.