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Moe the Hippo gets a new pool for his 50th birthday!

ABQ BioPark celebrates one of its senior residents with a private swimming hole
November 03, 2023

Albuquerque (November 3, 2023) – Turning 50 is a cause for celebration no matter who you are. But if you’re a hippo, the celebration needs to be BIG.

Birthday video!

The ABQ BioPark’s beloved 3,055-pound hippo Moe turns 50 today – far past the median life-expectancy for hippos of 36 years– and the Zoo is appropriately pulling out all the stops. In addition to a seasonal pumpkin birthday treat, Moe was recently surprised with a brand new, private pool to relax in with his family.

 This special, behind-the-scenes spot is a second pool to play and kick back in for Moe and his water-loving family – which includes 22 year-old Karen and their two-year-old offspring, Matilda. While the watering hole offers the trio some alone time away from their public fan base, it also is an important part of a geriatric-wellness care plan designed to ensure Moe lives in the most comfort possible.

 “This new pool gives the hippos more choices for where they want to be, in case they want more privacy,” says Bricker Thietten, animal care specialist.  “In addition, to help ease his joints, Moe receives pressure-wave therapy for age-related aches and arthritis discomfort. This is an innovative and voluntary non-invasive therapy that helps stimulate muscle and tissue recovery using ultrasonic waves.”

Like humans, aging animals deal with joint issues, loss of vision and hearing, and in some cases cognitive decline. But the seniors who live at ABQ BioPark Zoo have a team of expert staff dedicated to spoiling them with specialized meal plans, physical therapy, social opportunities and enrichment activities that keep their brains and bodies active and healthy. And they get all this pampering in the comfort of their own homes.

Moe isn’t the only one receiving special therapies. Irene the Asian Elephant, 56, has benefited from a similar pressure-wave therapy treatment plan. Tonka, the second-oldest male orangutan in U.S. zoos, just celebrated his 44th birthday. Tonka has kidney disease, which requires careful monitoring, and administration of additional fluids daily. And June, a 29-year-old reticulated giraffe with arthritis, has several bedding options available to her at all times and is monitored and treated with  medicine daily to manage her symptoms.   

 “ABQ BioPark works hard to treat all of our senior residents like VIPs, giving them the respect and specialized care they deserve in their golden years,” said Lynn Tupa, Zoo Manager.

 The new hippo pool was funded by the 1/8-cent, voter-approved Gross Receipts Tax. This tax had broad public support and was approved in 2016. It has funded many improvements to the ABQ BioPark, from behind-the-scenes maintenance and infrastructure improvements to the beloved Penguin Chill habitat that opened in 2019 and the innovative Asia area which opened in October 2023.

For additional updates about animals, events, conservation initiatives, and other happenings at the ABQ BioPark, be sure to follow its social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and X, and visit us at

NOTE TO MEDIA: A media kit (including images and b-roll) is available here:

The ABQ BioPark is a living environmental museum that protects the natural world and connects communities with nature. It is a refuge for thousands of animals and plants cared for by zoological, marine and botanical experts who lead significant science-based conservation work in New Mexico and around the world. The BioPark consists of four distinct areas: ABQ BioPark Aquarium, ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, ABQ BioPark Zoo, and Tingley Beach. It is an accredited, accessible facility that has earned the American Humane Certified™ seal of approval for its excellent treatment of animals and commitment to conservation.