Meet the Hippopotamus Girl – Gayla Peevey Today
Gayla Peevey was 10 years old when she recorded a song about a little girl who wanted a hippopotamus for Christmas. the song took off like a bullet in the year of 1953. Because Gayla could really and truly sing at the age of 10, a lot of people thought that Gayla was a grown-up singing like a child.
Gayla was born in Oklahoma and, based on the strength of the song, the Oklahoma City Zoo started a fundraiser to buy little Gayla a real hippo. Surprisingly, the zoo raised about $3,000. That may not sound like a lot of money, but keep in mind that the year was 1953. That $3,000 would translate to about $27,000 in today's money.
The hippo was actually bought and given to the 10 year-old. She promptly donated the animal to the zoo. The baby hippo was named "Maltida" and it lived to be about 47 years old. Matilda died in 1998 while being transferred from her home in Oklahoma City to Walt Disney World.
Little 10 year -old Gayla is now 74 and still a spark plug! Here is a video as she appears today singing her classic, "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."