Love is in the Air at Emirates Park Zoo

Since the animal kingdom doesn’t have its own dating apps (although maybe someday), finding a life-long companion can be a bit of a challenge.  At Emirates Park Zoo they know that animal welfare isn’t just about feeding and care, that it is equally important for them to have sociability and even a chance at love!  With that ambition in mind, we all now get to witness the start of a real love story with a brand new arrival at the zoo.

First there was he….

Otto the Hippo was born on 6th August 2012 in La Cornelle Zoo, Bergamo in Italy.  As part of their crucial partnerships with zoological institutions around the world, Otto was transferred to Emirates Park Zoo in 2016.  He is now seven and half years old and one of the most popular residents in the Zoo.  From his temperature controlled pool, he can often be spotted surveying the crowds with regal thoughtfulness, that is, of course, when he isn’t using his tail to flick poop at the visitors!  He loves to munch on fruits and vegetables almost as much as he loves swimming, a species trait that might explain why the name Hippopotamus comes from the Ancient Greek word for ‘river horse’.  At 2.2 metres long and weighing around 1.4 tonnes, it isn’t hard to see why Hippos are the third largest mammal in the world after the elephant and white rhino.  Now that he is fully grown, the expert keepers at Emirates Park Zoo knew it was time for him to dip his gigantic toes in the dating pool to find that special someone.

Then there was she….

As you can imagine, hippo set-ups aren’t the easiest of things to organize and the entire team at Emirates Park Zoo spent many months searching for just the right lady to join the family.  That search finally came to end in Switzerland in 2019.  Najuma, who was born on 25th October 2016, grew up with a lovely family in Basel Zoo but always dreamed of finding love.  So, in the first cooperation partnership between Basel and Emirates Park Zoo, the teams worked together to unite the love birds over here in the UAE.

Will there be them…..

As the whole family at Emirates Park Zoo readies for Najuma’s arrival there are key steps to follow when integrating the pair.  Hippos are notoriously territorial and can be very temperamental if they feel threatened.  Given the immense work involved in transporting animals, the courtship needs to be carefully orchestrated so that they can get to know each other properly.  Both of them are registered under Studbook and ZIMS and they will be housed separately initially and undergo a gradual introduction to develop a lasting bond that everyone hopes will turn quickly to love.  It is hoped that once they have connected, Emirates Park Zoo will soon be home to lots of little Hippos!

New arrivals are always lovely to see, but this opportunity to watch the Hippo love story from the very beginning will be a truly magical experience and Emirates Park Zoo promises to have lots of fun, engaging ways for you to get to know Najuma and see if she and Otto decide to ‘swipe right’!  You can keep up to date with Najuma, her arrival and how Otto is getting on via the Emirates Park social media channels or their website, but for the best fun, head down for a visit!  Ticket, opening timings and park information can all be found on their website at

We can’t wait to see the sparks fly!