The Toledo Zoo is mourning the death of Bubbles, its 58-year-old female hippo, who was euthanized Tuesday due to complications of advanced age.
Bubbles was one of three hippos at the Zoo and was estimated to be the oldest female Nile hippopotamus in any zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The AZA estimates a hippoâ??s mean life expectancy at 36 years.
"Bubbles was an iconic animal who had been a part of the Toledo Zoo longer than any person currently on staff," Jeff Sailer, executive director of the Zoo, said. "During her 57 years here, three generations of families included her in their trips to the Zoo -- more than 20 million people just in the last 20 years."
Born at the Philadelphia Zoo in October, 1954, Bubbles came to the Toledo Zoo in September, 1955. She spent her first 31 years at the Zooâ??s former elephant house (now the African Lodge) before moving to the new, world-renowned Hippoquarium in 1986. This exhibit featured the worldâ??s first filtered underwater viewing of hippos, offering clearer underwater viewing of the animals than zoo visitors had been able to enjoy previously.
In 1987, Bubbles made headlines with the birth of her calf, Puddles, who was born in the Hippoquarium (during regular Zoo hours, no less). This was the first time anyone in the world had seen or filmed an underwater hippo birth. Bubbles successfully raised a total of 11 calves while at the Zoo.
"Most of the visitors who saw Bubbles would never have had a chance otherwise to see a hippo up close," Jeff Sailer, executive director of the Zoo, said. "She had a long, productive life and inspired awe among the countless people whose lives she touched."