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Exhibits & Experiences :: Simmons Hippo Outpost

Simmons Hippo Outpost


Hippos have made their triumphant return to Dallas – and they brought their okapi pals with them! The 2.1-acre Simmons Hippo Outpost is an immersive African waterhole habitat that features a 24-foot by 8-foot underwater viewing window as part of the 120,000-gallon pool, bringing guests eye-to-nostril with the Nile hippo.

The surprisingly agile, super-sized “river horse” can be observed from multiple vantage points in the exhibit. An upper-level habitat provides an enhanced home for the Zoo’s world-renowned okapi herd. The new habitats are visible from the elevated Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail, with red river hogs and saddle-billed storks expected to be added to the habitat over time.

Stroll through the Highland Hippo Hut to learn more about the conservation efforts to protect the world’s third largest land mammal.

The Simmons Hippo Outpost is located in the Wilds of Africa near the monorail station. See you soon!


Nile hippopotamus

Hippos are the third largest land mammal, with only elephants and rhinos larger. They spend almost all of their time in the water, which they leave at dusk to graze for grass and other vegetation. Female hippo Boipelo (BOY-pa-lo) came to us from the ABQ BioPark from Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Learn all about hippos at our hippo keeper chat every day at 11:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.


While not identified as a distinct species until the early 1900s, the okapi was once thought to be related to zebra. Okapi, in fact, are members of the giraffe family! In the Dallas Zoo’s 50-year history of caring for endangered okapi, we’ve welcomed 36 calves. About 75 percent of all okapi in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Okapi Species Survival Plan (SSP) are related to Dallas Zoo offspring! Learn more about the remarkable history of the okapi and enjoy our okapi keeper chat every day at 2:15 p.m.

Building the Outpost

The Dallas Zoo broke ground on the Simmons Hippo Outpost on February 26, 2016. Mary McDermott Cook served as the honorary chair of the Simmons Hippo Outpost campaign, which was funded solely with private donations. A $5 million grant from the Harold Simmons Foundation launched the project, and additional generous donations include:

  • Highland Capital Management, $1 million: Longtime supporter of the Dallas Zoo, this donation built the Highland Hippo Hut for special educational displays and private events.
  • Diane and Hal Brierley, $1 million: The longtime philanthropists and Dallas Zoo supporters are building the Hippo Encounter underwater viewing area, where zookeeper talks also will be held.
  • Eugene McDermott Foundation, $800,000
  • Our community supporters who participated in a public personalized brick campaign.
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