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Woodland Park Zoo - Press Release


February 2, 2012

And the hippos weigh…
Zoo announces the “biggest winner” of hippo
weigh-in contest 

Gigi Allianic, Rebecca Whitham
206.548.2550 |

  Photo credit: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Shown in photo is Woodland Park Zoo’s hippo Guadalupe, 12, being weighed today on the scale by zookeeper Matt Mills. She weighed in at 3,285 pounds and Water Lily, 33, weighed in at 2,994 pounds giving a total combined weight of 6,279 pounds to cap off the online contest to guess the weight of the hippos.

SEATTLE – Wow, those are some big girls!  The results are in to cap a two-week, online contest to guess the combined weight of Woodland Park Zoo’s two hippos. Today’s weigh-in of 12-year-old Guadalupe and 33-year-old Water Lily revealed the giant pachyderms’ collective weight: 6,279 pounds with Guadalupe weighing in at 3,285 pounds and Water Lily at 2,994 pounds!

The winner is 42-year-old Alane Michels (pronounced Michaels) of Sprague, Wash. who guessed 6,280 pounds. Two people were eligible to win based on the accuracy of their guesses, and by random draw, Michels won the prize.

Michels has won the rare opportunity to meet the hippos behind the scenes in the hippo barn. When notified that she won the contest, Michels, who grew up in Kirkland, Wash. said, “This is a dream come true! I grew up coming to Woodland Park Zoo and am such an animal nut. I can’t believe it!” Additionally, the zoo will give Michels a 4-gallon bucket of Zoo Doo, six single-day passes to the zoo, and a ZooParent hippo adoption. More than 2,800 entries were submitted to the statewide contest.

“The contest has been a fun way to put the spotlight on these iconic animal ambassadors,” said Pat Owen, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “It’s a teachable moment for people who took the time researching the natural history of hippos, or simply throwing out a wild guess on their weights. Congratulations to Alane!” 

The scale is a new acquisition for the zoo’s pair of hippos and an important tool to help ensure the health of the animals by carefully monitoring their weight. How do you get a powerful hippo to step on a scale and stand still? “Hippos are very independent-minded animals so training requires patience and positive reinforcement to make the animals feel comfortable,” explained Owen. The hippos, particularly Guadalupe, are becoming comfortable with the weigh-in. “As part of our exemplary animal care program, the scale will help us get accurate weights on a regular basis and we’ll modify their diets accordingly.”

Guadalupe arrived at Woodland Park Zoo in 2003 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Water Lily was born at Houston Zoo and has been a favorite animal ambassador for visitors since she arrived at the zoo 33 years ago. Visitors can enjoy viewing the hippos at the zoo’s award-winning African Savanna. Other animals in the African Savanna include giraffe, ostrich, oryx and lions.

Hippos live in western, central, eastern and southern parts of Africa, and are one of the most iconographic species on the African savanna. Excellent swimmers, they prefer to amble along the bottom of slow-moving or stagnant water. An adult hippo can stay under water for up to five minutes. Hippopotamuses are listed as a vulnerable species, primarily because humans have excessively hunted hippos for their meat, fat, ivory teeth and hides.

Zoo winter hours through April 30: 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. daily. Admission fees through April 30: Adult (13-64) id="mce_marker"1.75; Child (3-12) $8.50. Free for children 2 and under year round. Active and retired U.S. military and their families, seniors and people with physical disabilities receive an admission discount. Zoo members receive free zoo admission year round. Parking: $5.25. For more information or to become a zoo member, call 206.548.2500 or 548.2599 (TTY), or visit the zoo’s website at

Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, award-winning Woodland Park Zoo is famed for pioneering naturalistic exhibits and setting international standards for zoos in animal care, conservation and education programs. Woodland Park Zoo is helping to save animals and their habitats in Washington state and in 50 countries around the world. By inspiring people to care and act, Woodland Park Zoo is making a difference in our planet’s future. For more information, visit