December 7, 2011

I Want a Hippopotamus!

One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs is the popular oldie, "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas." In case you've never heard it, here it is:

It's kind of a random Christmas song, isn't it? I mean, a hippopotamus for Christmas? Where does that come from?

Oklahoma, of course, like all awesome things ;)

Gayla Peevey, from Ponca City, OK, was 10 years old in 1953 and a child singing sensation. At the time, the Oklahoma City Zoo didn't have any hippos. Gayla's song launched a campaign to encourage Oklahoma children to send in their nickles and dimes to the zoo for Christmas so they could get a hippo. And sure enough, Mathilda the hippo came to the OKC zoo.

Since then, Gayla Peevey (now Henderson) now lives in California. Her family had to move there after the campaign because she was so famous in Oklahoma that her parents felt that was the only way she could grow up and have a chance at a normal life.

A few weeks ago, Gayla came back to the OKC Zoo to christen an exhibit commemorating Mathilda. She led a sing-along of her famous song with a crowd of parents and children who gathered to meet her. She stood and took pictures and signed autographs for over two hours with all the families. How fun would that have been? I really wish I could have been there.

So now you know. There's an actual story behind the slightly odd but endearing Christmas song.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing that! As a fellow Okie, I've actually never heard this story. How cool!

  2. I love it. My niece has suddenly started loving hippos, so I've been thinking about this song even more this year (always been one of my faves). I'm actually getting her a hippo pillow pet.

  3. This has always been one of my favorite Christmas tunes and heard it on the radio just yesterday! Always brings a smile to my face. :D

  4. L and I really liked listening to that song :) Thanks for sharing the story behind it!

  5. That is one of my favorite Christmas songs!! It always gets stuck in my head!!

  6. That is one of my favorite Christmas songs!! It always gets stuck in my head!!


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