I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. Love it or hate it…one thing can’t be denied, this catchy tune gets stuck in your head and you CAN NOT get it out. Like, FOR DAYS!

Let’s unwrap the history of this catchy tune and dive into some fascinating trivia.

The Jolly Tale Behind ‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas’ Song

The song first bopped its way into our hearts and heads in 1953 when it debuted on the Ed Sullivan Show. The ten-year-old sensation, Gayla Peevey, delivered this catchy tune with such irresistible enthusiasm that it immediately became a holiday staple.

This song was written by John Rox and released on November 11th, 1953 under Columbia Records. It was actually a huge hit, reaching No. 24 on Billboard magazine’s pop chart in December 1953.

Surprisingly, the song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” has not been featured in any major motion pictures.

A Song That Gifted a Real Hippo!

Here’s a fun piece of trivia: Did you know the song actually led to a real hippopotamus being “gifted” on Christmas Eve?


The song stirred up so much excitement that the Oklahoma City Zoo organized a fundraiser called the Gayla Peevy Hippo Fund, and the local community raised $3,000 to buy Gayla a hippopotamus for Christmas.

The Hippo, named Matilda, arrived on Christmas Eve. Well…obviously, Gayla couldn’t keep a hippo in her house so she generously “donated” the hippopotamus to the zoo. So Cool!

Check out this interview with Drew Savage where Gayla Peevy shares the heartwarming story.

From its inception in the 1950s to the real-life hippo gift, this song has created a legacy of joy and generosity that embodies the Christmas spirit. So, whether you’re actually wishing for a hippo or just enjoying the whimsical charm of this tune is a delightful addition to the holiday season.

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