SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield’s Dickerson Park Zoo is planning to say good-bye to its much-beloved hippopotamus, Henry.

Henry, who came to DPS from the San Francisco Zoo, is being moved to a new multi-million dollar hippopotamus exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo in just a few weeks.

Zoo spokesperson Melinda Arnold, along with Henry, visited with KOLR10 Daybreak about the going away party for Henry, planned for May 21 and 22.

“Hippos generally live into their 40’s to about 50,” Arnold explains.  “So Henry is in his middle years, at the top of the hill, you might say.”

“Henry has had a great life here.  He’s one of the most charasmatic animals at the zoo.  People love to come see him, and watch him being fed.”

Now you can visit with Henry one final time before he leaves for Cincinnati.  The Zoo staff will be feeding him watermelons and other produce, and you can learn about hippos, during the going away party.  “He’s much-beloved,” Arnold says.

Henry the Hippo came to DPZ in the early 80’s when he was about a year old.  Zookeepers drove him across the country from the San Francisco Zoo.

Zoo director Mike Crocker says the staff has been concerned for some time that Henry’s enclosure is inadequate and the pool is too small.  This year, the situation was mentioned in the zoo’s annual accreditation inspection, Crocker says.

“We have tried to find him a good home in the past,” Crocker says. “But there just wasn’t any place adequate.” 

Now, the Cincinnati Zoo is building a state of the art hippo exhibit, due to be completed next summer.  The $7 million facility will have surface and underwater viewing and a water filtration system.