SAN DIEGO (AP) — A 45-year-old male river hippopotamus named Otis and nicknamed the “smiling hippo” has died at the San Diego Zoo.
Otis had been under care for degenerative joint and spinal disease and a decision to euthanize him was made last weekend when his condition declined dramatically, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said in a tweet Monday.
Otis got his nickname in 2010 because of viral photo taken by a zoo visitor that captured him with his teeth displayed in what looked like a giant grin, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The 4,500-pound (2,041-kilogram) hippo was born in the wild in East Africa and went to the Los Angeles Zoo before being transferred to San Diego in 2009 to mate with a female named Funani, the newspaper said.
“Otis will be greatly missed by wildlife care staff, veterinarians, volunteers, and guests,” the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said.