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Gayla Peevey (born 1943) is perhaps best known for her song, "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" (Columbia, 1953). A child star from Ponca City, Oklahoma, she was ten years old when she recorded the novelty song, which had been written by John Rox in 1950.
The Oklahoma City Zoo capitalized upon the popularity of the song in 1953 through a fundraising campaign to "buy a hippo for Gayla" in order to bring a hippo to the zoo. (They had no hippopotamus at the time.) The song raised $3,000. A baby hippo, named Matilda, was procured and flown in to Oklahoma City and presented by Peevey to the zoo.