This summer Denver Zoo will host the silver anniversary celebration of Do At The Zoo, presented by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. As we prepare to honor 25 years of this successful fundraiser we have enjoyed looking back at some of our favorite memories. For today’s Throwback Thursday, the Zoo is honoring long-time zoo resident, Bert the hippopotamus. In 1990, the inaugural year of Do At The Zoo, at 34 years of age Bert fathered his 20th calf, a male named Sarge, and was the oldest resident at Denver Zoo. Today, at 57 years old Bert has fathered 29 offspring and is the oldest hippo in any North American zoo.
Bert, short for “Bertie,” arrived at Denver Zoo on December 16, 1958 from Central Park Zoo and was the first hippo to ever reside at the Zoo. Bert is the father of every hippo calf born at the Zoo. He only had two mates his entire life and has fathered 29 hippos!
Bert came to Denver Zoo as a donation from Arthur E. and Helen Johnson. The Johnsons were pioneers in the development of Denver Zoo and long-time supporters. Helen Johnson was a former Denver Zoological Foundation Trustee and chaired its board for many years. The couple bid on Bertie in an auction and secured travel arrangements for him when he was two years old. Upon seeing young Bertie in New York, Mrs. Johnson said “he has a lot of personality and will make a fine addition to the City Park Zoo.”
A fine addition indeed - the young hippo was a media sensation and his arrival was greatly anticipated. Throughout the years Bertie has been one of the most documented animals at Denver Zoo and has been featured in numerous stories in the daily papers. Bertie is one of Denver Zoo’s most well-known animals and a visitor favorite.
Bert’s birthday party has become a favorite summer activity for many guests to the Zoo. In 2013, the Zoo honored Bert with a six-day celebration culminating on his official “Bert-day” of August 21. News cameras and friends and families of the Zoo gathered to celebrate the hippo’s 57th birthday– a testament to the community’s continued love and support for this papa pachyderm.