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Singer of novelty song welcomes hippopotamus to Oklahoma City Zoo

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City native Gayla Peevey has welcomed another hippopotamus to the city's zoo, more than 60 years after her song about wanting one for Christmas helped the facility purchase its first.

The singer was on hand as the 26-year-old pygmy hippopotamus Francesca made her first Oklahoma public appearance since moving from the San Diego Zoo.

In 1953, the then 10-year-old Peevey sang the novelty hit, "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas." It led to a statewide fund drive in which children donated dimes to purchase and bring a pachyderm to the zoo.

"I had no idea that 64 years after that record came out that it would still be going. In fact, stronger than ever. It's had a resurgence,” Peevey told News 4.

Peevey was also there in December 1953 when the Nile hippopotamus Mathilda arrived.

Francesca joins 43-year-old Wolee in the zoo's pachyderm exhibit.

Pygmy hippos are lised as endangered with fewer than 3,000 in the wild.