James Dondero Returns Hippos Where They Belong

To many, James Dondero is known as Highland Capital Investment’s president and co-founder. He is also known for donating millions of dollars to various causes including the Perot Museum of Natural Science, the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and the Snowball Express. Dallas residents will remember him for one more thing: he helped bring two hippos—Boipelo and Adhama—to the Dallas Zoo.

A Rare Feat

For a long time, Dallas citizens mourned for Papa. The hippo died in 2001, leaving neither kin nor offspring. To make it worse, bringing a replacement was no easy task and it could not be immediately done since there was safety and change of lifestyle to think about. This meant a lot of planning and use of resources which the zoo did not have. Fortunately, Dondero stepped in and helped lift the burden from the zoo’s shoulders, doing what no man had done before.

The Making of a Hero

A hippo needs a lot of fresh water as well as good dry land. A hippo needs to move and splash and simply do what it is naturally supposed to do without human disturbance. This means that while a natural habitat had to be created for Boipelo and Adhama, a monorail line had to be put above the pools for the visitors. The project would involve a large number of experts in construction, horticulture, and CLR design. In other words, a lot of passion, dedication, and money had to be found. James Dondero freely gave them all.

For the Love of the People

Dondero founded HCM in 1993 with aim of providing credit solutions to investors. Today, he is known as one of the people at the forefront in not only aiding business growth but also giving back to the community. Among his biggest philanthropic efforts is his $1million donation to the Dallas Zoo.


When Papa died, Dallas citizens had no hope of ever seeing a hippo in their home ground again. Too much was needed and there were too few people who were ready to give for the construction of the Simmons Hippo Outpost which occupies 2.1 acres. One among the few is James Dondero. Now, the Dallas people and anyone who visits the zoo can be sure that there will not only be a hippo to meet but two. Moreover, Boipelo is female while Adhama is male: which brings hope of an offspring.

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