Hippo at San Diego Zoo becomes international star - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Hippo at San Diego Zoo becomes international star

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - If you've never heard of Otis the hippo, you're about to. The San Diego Zoo's new hippo is getting a lot of attention.

Every year at the San Diego Zoo millions of pictures are taken, but something truly special has to happen to turn a snapshot into a famous photo. There were a couple of cameras in front of the pandas and a few more with those cute koalas, but the hottest zoo ticket these days just floated by in the cool pool. His name is "Otis the Hippo".

It all started back in February when Lauren Parker visiting from Arkansas snapped a picture with Otis and noticed he was grinning from ear to ear. Lauren's husband Jay then jumped in front of the tank where Otis kept right on mugging for the camera.

The picture of the happy hippo is now being e-mailed worldwide and used a popular screen saver.

"They don't really smile," said Matt Akel, an Animal Care Supervisor at the zoo.

But Akel is glad Otis is a sudden star.

"I think it's fantastic that Otis gets to be out there and not to take anything away from Funani I think it's fantastic," he said.

Funani is Otis's female friend and it was a rocky start when they first met. She fought with Otis and left "love bites" on his back. After a trial separation Otis and Funani are actively mating and suddenly smitten.

Word is a baby hippo is on the way. If their breeding is successful Otis and Funani should expect a newborn hippo next summer in either early June or late July.


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