February 14, 2023
Now that we’re a few weeks into the New Year, how are you doing with your resolutions? The new year is a time to refresh and reflect on how we can better ourselves in the year ahead. Maybe you made a 2023 resolution to read more, moisturize daily, or cut down on screen time. Then there is the dreaded new year’s diet that can help you get healthy but is so hard to stick to. Nevertheless, it helps to know that you’re not alone!
Hippos are known for their voluptuous figures, but did you know that even hippos sometimes have to go on a diet? At the moment, Genny and Button, Adventure Aquarium’s resident Nile hippos, are reluctantly learning that lesson.
We weigh our hippos each week and record their body condition score quarterly,” said Adventure Aquarium’s Assistant Curator of Bird and Mammals, Mark Hacker. “Over several months, our husbandry team noticed Genny’s weight slowly increasing, with her body score approaching obese.”
After observing this increase in Genny’s weight, the animal care team enlisted a zoo nutritionist to look at her diet and provide modifications that would allow Genny to maintain a healthy weight while getting the valuable daily nutrition she needs.
Per WebMD’s Top 10 Diet and Nutrition Resolutions, humans are encouraged to choose brightly colored fruits and vegetables, but that advice doesn’t necessarily apply to hippos. One of the first things to get cut from the hippos’ daily diet was watermelon, their all-time favorite, due to its high sugar content. Genny and Button’s current diet consists of timothy hay, wild herbivore grain, hay enhancer grain, veggies, and greens like romaine, bok choy, swiss chard, kale, and collards. During training sessions, they also received carrots as a reward.
“Believe it or not. Despite being on a diet, Genny and Button typically eat around 30-35 lbs. of food per day,” said Hacker.
And, while the hippos won’t turn their noses up at most foods, their diet has unveiled some of their least favorite eats. For both hippos, collard greens and oranges seem to be at the bottom of the list, and Genny is not the biggest fan of strawberries.
The New York Times said it best, “To create a healthy habit, find an accountability buddy.”
While Button’s weight was not of as much concern, she was also placed on the diet to ensure both hippos got the best possible nutrition. Plus, friends don’t let friends diet alone, and research shows that having an accountability partner helps with successful weight loss!
Exercise also plays a big part in the hippos maintaining a healthy weight. Genny and Button spend their days on exhibit, where they have plenty of room to bounce and play around in the water, walk on land, and explore enrichment opportunities provided by the husbandry team.
Since starting their weight loss journey, Genny and Button have each lost around 300 lbs. Genny now weighs in at a feather-light 4,300 lbs. and Button at about 2,900 lbs. The average weight of an adult hippo ranges between 2,700 and 5,000 lbs.
So, next time you jump on the scale or enjoy a bowl of broccoli, think of Button and Genny.
Genny and Button are the only hippos in the world to be exhibited at an aquarium, and Adventure Aquarium is so proud to be the place they call home. If you want to see Genny and Button in person, you can purchase general admission tickets or become a Member at AdventureAquarium.com.
Are you looking to get even more up-close and personal? In addition to your admission, book an up-close hippo encounter that will take you behind the scenes to get within inches of and toss leafy greens to those Nile beauties.