Pygmy hippopotamus Francesca dies at Oklahoma City Zoo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Francesca, a female pygmy hippo that “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” singer Gayla Peevey welcomed to Oklahoma City’s zoo in December, has died at age 26.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden announced Francesca’s death Wednesday and said caretakers examined the hippo last week after she showed signs of illness. Veterinarians diagnosed her with dental and severe gastrointestinal disease and progressive kidney failure.

The zoo said the median life expectancy for a pygmy hippo is just over 26 years. It said in her time there, Francesca was “confident and calm.”

Francesca moved to Oklahoma City from the San Diego Zoo. She was welcomed by Peevey, an Oklahoma City native whose novelty hit inspired a fundraising drive that helped the zoo purchase its first hippo, Mathilda, in 1953.