WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — One of the most iconic animals at the Sedgwick County Zoo died Tuesday. Pudgie, a hippopotamus, had ongoing health issues, and her advanced age made it harder for her to get around.
Now that she is gone, there is only one hippo left, 51-year-old Sweetie Pie, and there are no plans for any more.
“A hippo habitat is not in the Zoo’s Master Plan,” Jennica King, SCZ director of marketing and communication, said.
Pudgie was born in October 1972 at Houston Zoo. She arrived in Wichita in 1973, joining Sweetie Pie.
The keepers and veterinarians at the zoo spent several years trying to keep Pudgie comfortable. But she recently took a downturn.
“It became clear that her pain was too difficult to manage,” the zoo said. “The very tough decision was made to compassionately and humanely euthanize her in order to prevent any suffering.”
Sweetie Pie is also getting specialized geriatric care. The zoo says she is maintaining a good quality of life. Keepers plan to devote extra time to her since she will no longer have Pudgie to interact with.
But King said the zoo would not bring in any new hippos.
“Sweetie Pie and Pudgie will leave behind a legacy of being the only hippos ever to live at SCZ,” she said.
The zoo says Pudgie was loved and adored by thousands of guests over the last five decades. Favorite memories include Pudgie drinking from a fire hose and smashing whole watermelons in her mouth.
SCZ has invited fans to share memories of Pudgie on the zoo’s Facebook page.