When Francesca met Wolee


A 26-year-old female endangered pygmy hippopotamus, named Francesca, is enjoying her new home at Oklahoma City Zoo thanks to a charity airlift by FedEx. Transport from Francesca’s previous home at San Diego Zoo was provided at no cost to either institution by FedEx as part of its “Delivering for Good” initiative.

She joins Wolee, a 43-year-old male pygmy hippo, at the zoo’s pachyderm habitat. Wolee has called the OKC Zoo home since 1999 and is the oldest pygmy hippo in a United States zoo accredited by the US Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Hippos are an iconic part of the OKC Zoo’s legacy and we’re excited for Wolee to have a new companion in Francesca.” says Kevin Drees, director of animal collections. “Transporting animals from one location to another safely is a critical but costly endeavor. We are so grateful to FedEx Express for its logistical expertise and exceptional team members who brought Francesca to the OKC Zoo.”

Francesca’s arrival repeats the arrival at Christmas 1953 of a Nile hippopotamus name Mathilda, which was acquired using funds raised by the public that year. Pygmy hippos are currently listed as endangered with less than 3,000 in the wild. Although they do not have many natural predators, these shy animals are hunted for their meat. With a median life expectancy of 27 years, they can be found alone or in pairs in the wild, ranging from Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast.