Patti the Hippo Turns 55: Oldest Hippo in Human Care

This Monday, February 19th, marks a special occasion at the Milwaukee County Zoo as they celebrate the 55th birthday of Patti the Hippo.

Patti’s longevity is remarkable, making her one of the oldest hippos in human care in the United States. Patti’s 55th birthday is a significant milestone that highlights her unique status.

Patti lives with Happy, pictured here. Photo: Milwaukee County Zoo

In the wild, hippos typically enjoy a lifespan of 35 to 45 years, but Patti has gracefully surpassed this average, showcasing the exceptional care and love she receives at the zoo.

Fascinating Hippo Facts

In honor of Patti’s special day, here are some intriguing facts about hippos that may surprise you:

  • Related to Whales: Despite their nickname “river horse,” hippos are closely related to whales, sharing a distant ancestral link that intrigues scientists and animal lovers alike.
  • Aquatic Sleepers: Hippos, including our star Patti, have the remarkable ability to sleep underwater. They can hold their breath for up to 5 minutes, rising to the surface to breathe without waking.
  • Impressive Openings: The hippo’s mouth is a marvel of nature, capable of opening up to 4 feet wide, revealing their large teeth and powerful jaws.
  • Patti’s Impressive Size: At a “dainty” 3,000 pounds, Patti embodies the strength and grandeur of her species.

Visit Patti

The zoo welcomes visitors to come and wish her well on her special day.

It’s a perfect opportunity for families to explore the wonders of the animal kingdom, learn about conservation efforts, and simply enjoy a day out in one of Milwaukee’s most cherished settings.

Embrace the Wild Connections Program

For those inspired by Patti’s story and eager to learn more about hippos and other zoo residents, the Milwaukee County Zoo’s Wild Connections program offers an intimate look at the lives of these fascinating animals. Through special tours, visitors gain insights into the animals’ behaviors, diets, and the critical conservation work supporting their wild cousins.


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