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Hip hippo hooray as pupils name zoo baby

Senior infants in a Dublin school have become the first class to name a baby in Dublin zoo -- after their name 'Atiya' was chosen to christen the zoo's baby hippo.

A class of five- and six year-olds from Notre Dame Junior School in Churchtown, Dublin 14, impressed zoo keepers with their Swahili name, which means "gift".

Their teacher Gilda Sisk set the children a class project to name the hippo calf and they each drew pictures of the hippo. They now have an opportunity to visit Dublin Zoo to meet Atiya. Helen Clarke Bennett, a team leader at the zoo, said the level of work the children put in impressed her colleagues.


"We were delighted to choose it. It was a name which was offered to us before for a giraffe by two people, and it means "gift" which is lovely.

"We liked the idea that the school put so much effort into it and that they sent in drawings from everyone in the class. They were lovely and the children were so young as well."

While lots of adults applied to name the hippo, only one other school did.

Six-year-old Jane Crowley from Notre Dame said: "Our principal Mr King came into the classroom and we were really happy. We got no homework that day."