[Happy, the 28-year-old, 5,000-pound Nile hippopotamus](http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/AfricanSavanna/News/Happy.cfm), was noticeably absent from the [Smithsonian National Zoological Park](http://nationalzoo.si.edu/default.cfm) this week. On Monday. zookeepers moved him to a larger habitat at the [Milwaukee County Zoo](http://www.milwaukeezoo.org/), according to the National Zoo’s press release.

Happy was housed in the elephant exhibit at the National Zoo with three Asian elephants and a pygmy hippopotamus. However, the new elephant exhibit – named Elephant Trails and set to open in 2011 – will be solely for elephants. Happy’s new home at the Milwaukee Zoo will not only be larger, but will also be shared with two female Nile hippos.

The move is part of the [Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan](http://www.aza.org/species-survival-plan-program/), which allows accredited zoos to move animals for breeding purposes, according to Pamela Baker-Masson, associate director of communications for the National Zoo.

“Happy’s move to Milwaukee will pair him with two female hippos, Patti and Puddles, for possible breeding,” Baker-Masson said. “Happy was transported in a custom-made, spacious, steel-framed and lumber-lined crate built by [National] Zoo staff. The hippo was trained to enter and calmly remain in the crate to prepare him for the road trip to the Midwest.”

Happy left D.C. at approximately 9:30 a.m. and arrived in Milwaukee at 3 a.m. on Tuesday. Karin Korpowski-Gallow, senior public affairs specialist for the National Zoo, said that movers checked on Happy every couple hours to make sure that he was comfortable and safe. A car with two animal keepers and a veterinarian followed the truck transporting Happy for the duration of the trip.

“He is in Milwaukee, in quarantine. Happy got walked right off the truck when he moved and began feeding right away. He also started walking around his temporary quarantined enclosure,” Korpowski-Gallow said.

“Happy needs to be in quarantine from Patti and Puddles for at least a month. We hope to unveil him to the public sometime next week and have the media there for viewing,” Jenny Delaverti, public affairs specialist at the Milwaukee County Zoo, said.

Delaverti said that while Happy cannot see the other two hippos at this time, they can smell each other and communicate through grunts and other auditory methods that humans cannot understand.

For now, Happy is living in a newly renovated area with his own heated pool, heated floor, and shower area. Delaverti said that the zoo is accustomed to keeping hippos warm during the cold Milwaukee winters, and zoo staff is confident that the heated floors and pool will keep him comfortable. Happy feeds on cantaloupe, apples, hay and carrots.

“I think he’s living the good life. Someone told me the other day that they wish they were Happy,” Delaverti joked.

Happy was born on Jan. 4, 1981, and was the 22nd Nile hippopotamus to be born at the National Zoo, according to the zoo’s Web site. Happy’s departure marks the end of the Nile hippopotamus exhibit.

“The National Zoo has a long history with hippos – we’ve had them since the original Elephant House was built more than 70 years ago. We certainly hope to bring hippos back at some point in the future,” the zoo’s Web site states.

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