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Singer of novelty song welcomes hippopotamus to Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City native Gayla Peevey has welcomed another hippopotamus to the city's zoo, more than 60 years after her song about wanting one for Christmas helped the facility purchase its first.

The singer was on hand as the 26-year-old pygmy hippopotamus Francesca made her first Oklahoma public appearance since moving from the San Diego Zoo. In 1953, the then 10-year-old Peevey sang the novelty hit, "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas." It led to a statewide fund drive in which children donated dimes to purchase and bring a pachyderm to the zoo.

Peevey also was there in December 1953 when the Nile hippopotamus Mathilda arrived. Francesca joins 43-year-old Wolee in the zoo's pachyderm exhibit. Pygmy hippos are listed as endangered with fewer than 3,000 in the wild.

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