I had an opportunity yesterday to visit the newly opened (6 days ago) Zambezi River Hippo Camp exhibit at the Memphis Zoo. I was impressed, and in my opinion, this very well done. These are my toughts as I went thru the exhibit. It is a 4 acre, single path loop with one small branch loop, that is easily traversed in either direction, with definite entry/exit points at both ends. I entered at the point closest to the main zoo entrance. The first enclosure I noticed was the Lesser Flamingos. A flock of about 50 with a good size pool that has a bowl shaped concrete island, filled with dirt, in the middle. The pool is surrounded by white sand. The flamingos are all different ages and seemed to stay on the island. Next to the Flamingos is an area that is supposed to represent a Zambezi stream, with a dugout canoe in it. I didn't see any fish or wildlife in it, and am not sure what it's intended purpose is. It looked to me like it was just a filler, and perhaps will house something else in the future. Across from the flamingos is an area housing Patas Monkeys, an endagered male Okapi, and a male and female Nyala. The Patas Monkey enclosure contains 4 individuals, is big enough with enough structure to give the small monkeys room to run. They seemed to be the most well adapted to their new surroundings. They were running, playing, chasing, and grooming each other, paying no attention to the people and happenings around them. Next to the Patas Monkeys are the Okapi and Nyala enclosures. I thought these were a little small, but maybe the're big enough and provide enough cover for one or two animals. The grass was very lush. We will see how that holds out, as these are grazing animals (they were being fed hay also). The path makes a curve, which contains a playground area with native type drums that kids banged on all day, and enters the underwater veiwing area of the hippo enclosure. This veiwng area spans the entire lenght of the hippo pool, which I guessed to be about 50-75 ft long and 15-20 ft Wide. It has about 8-10 angled viewing portals that are about 8ft wide by 6 ft high and about a ft or two off the ground. The water level is about chest high on most adults and provides the opportunity to view the hippos at their eye level above the water as well as underwater. The are no bad views from this area. (I could do without the cheesy running water/splashing sounds being piped in thru cheap sounding speakers.) There are a lot of fish in the pool also, and according to a keeper, Splish, a hippo born at the Memphis Zoo, and has spent her entire life there, totally freaked out over them as she had never seen a fish. She seems to accept it now. This viewing area empties into an empty, large, round, tall, open span building. I suspect it will be an education/conference/ special events center. From here you can go across the building into the underwater veiwing area for the Nile Crocodiles, take a loop thru an aivary, or go up one story via stairs or elevator to an observation deck. I chose to go up to the hippo obersvation deck. It is an view down the entire lenght of the hippo enclosure. There is a smaller deck for the keepers where one was throwing out pieces of melons and spraying a fire hose into the pool in an effort to get the hippos to come down to that end, but they were having no part of that, and stayed at the far end. On the other side of the round building is the obersvation deck for the Nile Crocodile enclosure. This is much like the hippo area only not as big. There are four adult crocs, all very uniform and about 10-12 ft. long or longer. According to one of the docents I spoke with, these crocodiles all came from a crocodile farm. That explains their uniformity. There are plenty of logs and rock like structures they can sun in, and like the hippo area, there is a white sand beach area. At the far end of the obersvation deck is a set of stairs down (or you can go back to the stairs/elevator in the round building) and enter the underwater crocidille viewing area. This is much like the hippo area, water level about chest high on an adult. It was hard to see though. I was there in the morning with the sun shinning in on the glass, a lot of glare. At the far end of the crocodile enclosure is a small one way loop thru an outdoor netted aviary (it may have a top that can be covered in bad weather) with a varity of species. Inside are netted areas separating some of the birds. One holds Demoislle Cranes, another has Caped Vultures, and I've forgotten what was in the third. Having the run of the entire aviary are various waterfowl and egrets. I thought the area for the caped vultures is very small. There are 4 vultures in there, and with one wing flap they go from one end to the other. This is a much needed upgrade for the hippos and, has allowed the Memphis Zoo to bring in some additional species. I went by the old Zambezi River Hippo Camp just to remind myself how bad the area was. The building dates back to 1955 and the pools date back to 1919. Some interesting facts I got according to the Memphis Zoo docent I spoke with, are the Okapi is highly endangered, very reclusive, and only lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This particular individual came from the Houston Zoo and was sent there by the SSP. The size of the hippo pool is tied with the one at the San Diego Zoo as the largest in a zoo. The total cost of the exhibit was $22 million. $5 million was given to the zoo by the City of Memphis and the other $17 million was from private funding. I noticed each underwater viewing portal was donated by someone and a small plaque at the entrance of the hippo area that says, "Hippo Exhibit A Gift From FedEX Corporation". The most amazing fact, and what makes this a "state of the art" exhibit is the water filtration system. I forgot how many hundreds of millions of gallons this place holds but, each and every gallon is filtered every hour. This is just a reflection of my thoughts as I went thru the exhibit. If you are anywhere near Memphis it will be worth it to stop and see this and the entire Memphis Zoo. The pictures I and others took do not do this justice. It is much more impressive than the photos can show. I quess what says it all is, over the entire zoo I heard adults ask young children what they wanted to see next and their reply was almost exactly the same. They excitedly yelled, "Let's go see the Hippos again!"