Woodland Park Zoo to euthanize beloved 45-year-old hippo

The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle will be saying goodbye to one of its beloved hippopotamus. 

On Wednesday, the zoo announced 45-year-old Water Lily, whose health was declining following a cancer diagnosis last month, will be humanely euthanized early next week. 

"Everyone who worked with Lily realized how special she was. For those she trusted, you got the privilege of knowing all her favorite things. The best spot to scratch her under her chin, her ear wiggles she would give as she surfaced in the pool when she heard you call her, and how she would always ask for a treat when she saw you even if it was just lettuce. But if it was something extra good, like a watermelon, she would suck every last bit of juice that spilled out of it. She touched the lives of every keeper who had the joy of working with her," said Lead Animal Keeper, Lauren Sutherland-Cook.

Woodland Park Zoo hippo

(Woodland Park Zoo)

In March, Lily underwent an anesthetic procedure to evaluate her teeth as well as a wound and swelling on her cheek, a biopsy of which revealed a diagnosis of fibrosarcoma, a type of cancer of connective tissue.

The zoo said her care team and veterinarians have been monitoring her health and overall wellbeing since the surgery, and saw changes that indicated a declining quality of life for Lily, including decreased mobility, unsteadiness, and having a harder time rising and getting out of her pool.

Lily was born in 1978 at the Houston Zoo and moved to Woodland Park Zoo the following year. She shares a habitat with 25-year-old Lupe, who has been with the zoo since 2023. 

The zoo also said the community can continue to see Lily through Sunday, April 28. 

Anyone who wants to share their memories, photos or support can leave them in the comments of the Woodland Park Zoo's social accounts (@woodlandparkzoo). 

The zoo has asked visitors not to leave memorial items at Lily and Lupe's habitat or inside the zoo. 


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