I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Words and music by John Rox
performed by Gayla Peevey (1953)

A rather peculiar novelty Christmas song, recorded by child performer Gayla Peevey (who later recorded under the name Jamie Horton). The song remains popular as a novelty in the US, usually played around Christmas time by radio humor DJ's. In 1985, it was included in a collection of songs used on the Dr. Demento radio show released by Rhino records (re-released on CD in 1995). The song was origonally released on vinyl in 1953 along with another novelty children's song performed by Gayla Peevey entitled 'Are my Ears on Straight?'.

Outside of its modern replays on humor radio, 'I want a Hippopotamus. . .' is best known for its involvement in a campaign to get a hippopotamus for the Oklahoma City zoo. While not written to benefit the zoo, the song was released at approximately the same time as a campaign by the zoo to acquire a hippopotamus for its collection. The song was played on local radio, and people were encoraged to send in small amounts of money to help buy a hippo 'for Gayla'. In the end the campaign worked, and the zoo was able to acquire a hippo. It was symbolically presented to Gayla who, having perhaps lost the desire to own a hippo, presented it to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Lyrics:
I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
Don't want a doll, no dinky Tinker Toy
I want a hippopotamus to play with and enjoy

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
I don't think Santa Claus will mind, do you?
He won't have to use our dirty chimney flue
Just bring him through the front door,
that's the easy thing to do

I can see me now on Christmas morning,
creeping down the stairs
Oh what joy and what surprise
when I open up my eyes
to see a hippo hero standing there

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses
I only like hippopotamuses
And hippopotamuses like me too

Mom says the hippo would eat me up, but then
Teacher says a hippo is a vegeterian

There's lots of room for him in our two-car garage
I'd feed him there and wash him there and give him his massage

I can see me now on Christmas morning,
creeping down the stairs
Oh what joy and what surprise
when I open up my eyes
to see a hippo hero standing there

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles or rhinoceroseses
I only like hippopotamuseses
And hippopotamuses like me too!

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