Another Homerun For Dallas Based Philanthropist James Dondero As He Aids In Bringing Back Hippos To the World Famous Dallas Zoo
Without a doubt, the name James Dondero has grown popular and loved by Dallas and Fort Worth residents. If you are new to the region, you may be wondering who he is and why is he so popular? Well, aside from being the Co-Founder and current President of one of Dallas’ biggest capitals investment firms - Highland Capital Management (HCM) - James Dondero is also a major philanthropist and an active supporter of community based development projects.
For decades, his undying devotion and irrefutable acts of philanthropy have seen the construction and transformation of many public amenities like educational institutions and also most of Dallas’ key attraction spots. And, as is the norm, his latest act of philanthropy - the re-establishment of a state-of-the-art hippo outpost at the Dallas Zoo - left many zoo and hippo lovers overwhelmed with happiness and eager to see the hippos for the first time in 15 years.
For the millions of annual Dallas zoo-goers, this year’s - 2017 - spring season marked the renaissance of one of the zoo’s most invigorating exhibitions - The Hippo Habitat. That’s right! After a decade and a half in waiting, Dallas residents can finally relish in the beauty of hippos without having to travel to Africa. Last year - 2016, Mr. Dondero posted on his Facebook page that “Highland is helping bring hippos back to the Dallas Zoo in 2017!” A promise that came true on the 28th of April, 2017.
Mr. Dondero, through his investment firm - Highland Capital Management, made a whopping One Million Dollar ($1,000,000) Donation to aid in the reconstruction of the Dallas Zoo hippo outpost that was abandoned in 2001 when “Papa” - the zoo’s famous hippo - died. The donation was used to construct the 5000 square foot “Highland Capital Lodge” area in the outpost that has unique displays and an awesome view of the hippos and their stunning habitat. The lodge also offers private event facilitation with all proceeds reserved for the zoo's future improvements.
Fourteen Million Dollars ($14,000,000) - that’s how much it costs to bring the hippos back to the Dallas Zoo. Was it worth it? Yes, because it’s an initiative that will be enjoyed by many people and generations to come all thanks to James Dondero and other philanthropists like the Harold Simmons Foundation, Diane and Hal Brierley, and the Eugene McDermott Foundation. In a comment, Lisa Simmons, the president of Harold Simmons Foundation said, “Everyone loves hippos, and we’re proud to be a part of their return to the Dallas Zoo.”
So, how does the new Dallas Zoo Simmons Hippos Outpost look like? Well, the $14 Million exhibit is quite a site to behold. In fact, when commenting on the design and general appeal of the outpost, Dallas zoo’s CEO and presidents - Gregg Hudson was quoted saying, “This habitat has exceeded our highest hopes. We are confident that standing face-to-face with a submersed, 3,000-pound hippo will be a major highlight for our visitors.”
Built on a 2.1 Acre piece, the outpost features an impressive 120,000-gallon African waterhole habitat that has a safe and perfectly designed (24ft by 8ft ) submerged viewing area that takes the whole viewing experience to a whole new domain. According to the Mayor - Mr. Mike Rawlings, “The Dallas Zoo has yet again set raised the standard for most of today’s highly accredited zoos.” Already, zoo management have reported a spike in the number of daily visitors as many people - both local and visitors - stream in to witness this impressive milestone as well as marveling in the beauty of these giant "river horses".
“At Highland Capital Management, we always invest in the community by offering support to organizations that advance the Dallas area in unparalleled and prestigious ways.” said James Dondero, co-founder and president of Highland Capital Management, L.P. He went on to add that, “The Dallas Zoo is exactly this kind of establishment and Highland Capital is proud to aid them in bringing great educational opportunities as well as experiences like the new hippo exhibit to Dallas.”
The new Simmons Hippo Outpost is home to two beautiful and jovial hippos - Adhama (six year old male) from the Los Angeles Zoo who weighs just about 3,722 pounds and Boipelo (ten year old female) from the Albuquerque Biological Park weighing about 2,395 pounds. These “river horses” are expected to add more life to the zoo making every visit worth every penny. On a prepared statement, the vice president of Animal Operations and Welfare - Mr. Harrison Edell said, "The moves were smooth, and our new residents (the hippos) have settled in nicely into their new habitat."
Although, you should note that the decision to pair these specific hippos was not made randomly. Adhama and Boipelo were paired as per the recommendations made by the Association of Zoos and the Aquariums' Species Survival Plan. And so far they both seem to be getting along just fine as reported by the zoo’s management. In fact, during Boipelo’s arrival, Adhama’s joy and excitement were clearly noted when he began sniffing the air as a sign of interest.
Over the years, Mr. Dondero has donated millions of dollars to numerous community development projects with the hippo outpost being one of them. He has cultivated an impeccable reputation as an active supporter of development projects and charities. Aside from the Simmons Hippo Outpost, James Dondero and Highland Capital Management has also injected fat donation checks into some of Dallas’ most iconic attractions and public centers like the Snowball Express, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Institute, the Perot Museum of Natural Science, Uplift Education, the SMU’s Tower Scholars Program and the Education is Freedom Charity.
For James Dondero, life is always in the fast lane, but he always makes sure he leaves someone smiling every step of the way. When he’s not busy trading in the capital market, he is busy working with Dallas residents to make Dallas and its surroundings better for them and those who visit this beautiful city. His involvement in the reconstruction of the hippo exhibit not only brought joy and happiness to the people of Dallas but also marked the beginning of a new life for the Hippos and their caregivers - an act of philanthropy that most hippo fans and everyday zoo-goers will be grateful for forever.
Finally, the 15-year wait for Hippos to be brought back to the Dallas Zoo has ended all thanks to Highland Capital Management’s President and Co-founder - Mr. James Dondero and his fellow philanthropists.
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