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20 San Diego Uptown News | March 4-17, 2011 FROM PAGE 1


cember 2008, 300 blocks of streets within District 3 have been repaved, 280 sidewalks and 1,113 street lights have been re- paired, 700 new trees have been planted, and five local parks have been improved. He’s also succeeded in add-

ing 223 new public parking spaces in Hillcrest last year located at the Department of Motor Vehicles, AT&T and Per- nicano’s sites. “They said it couldn’t be

done, but after 26 years of be- ing boarded up, last October we opened 36 spots in the for- mer Pernicano’s restaurant lot to the public,” he said. Although previous years

have had their highpoints, the sluggish economic conditions, coupled with the city’s tight fi- nances, point to a challenging road ahead. Current budget forecasts point to a $56.7 mil- lion deficit in the city’s 2012 budget. “The good news is the econ-

omy is showing some signs of recovery,” Gloria said, pointing to increased sales tax projec-

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tions. “But in the near term, the economic rebound will not be enough to make up the full deficit. Additional cuts and sacrifices will be required of our residents and our city em- ployees.” San Diego first Lady Rana

Sanders said that in the year ahead, the City Council will be forced to navigate through thorny issues, making tough decisions along the way. “Half of those decisions will

be difficult,” Sanders said during the address. “And the other half of those decisions will be even more difficult. Todd (Gloria) has both talent and temperament, and if we give him time he’ll be able to help this district and the city to achieve better outcomes.” Gloria said despite econom-

ic challenges, an additional 367 blocks of district streets and 240 sidewalks will be repaired by the close of this year. He also said the city will be consid- ering the issuance of two new $100 million bonds in 2012 and 2015 to help fund infrastruc- ture projects. “You didn’t just send me to

City Hall to sit there and look pretty,’ Gloria said. ’Although I think I succeed at that too.’u

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San Diego Zoo welcomes its newest resident—a baby hippo

View from the Zoo Dani Dodge

parks flew the first time hippos Funani and Otis met at the San Diego Zoo in 2009. And not necessarily the love-at-first-sight kind you see in movies. It was more of a struggle for dominance dance-off.


But time changes everything and on Jan. 26, the pair gave birth to their first calf, a nearly 100-pound bundle of joy, before the amazed eyes of Zoo guests. Tears flowed and cheers

erupted. As someone who was there for the pair’s “first date,” it was magical for me to watch the underwater birth. And I wasn’t the only one who was moved. “You saw her (Funani) fidget- ing and fidgeting and all of a sudden there was a baby in the water with her,” Keith Grupe said, a visitor from Wisconsin. “It’s the coolest thing you could ever see.” Zookeepers named the baby boy “Adhama,” which means glory in Swahili. The name honors se- nior mammal keeper Adam Ruble, who passed away in January. This was the 32nd hippo birth at the San Diego Zoo; the last calf was born on July 7, 2003. Hippos have delighted guests at the Zoo since 1936. But by 1982, the old exhibit needed some work. When the new exhibit, complete with a hippo beach and underwater viewing area, opened in 1995, the hippos were back. Even before I came to work at the Zoo two years ago, the exhibit was one of my favorites. Watching the hippos swim their

morning laps in the pool is like watching the world’s most unlikely ballet. There is an incredible grace to the dance-like movements as they glide through the water that seems completely implausible when you see the two-ton crea- tures lumbering about on land. The day Funani and Otis met, though, was not your typical awkward first dance. It was Feb. 13, 2009, and seemed like a great Valentine’s Day story. Otis, then a 34-year-old, 4,500-pound hippo from the Los Angeles Zoo, came to the San Diego Zoo in exchange for Jabba, a male hippo who had been on exhibit with Funani since 1995. Funani and Jabba had three offspring.

It was hoped that Otis and

Caught in a moment, Funani nuzzles her new calf less than an hour after birth. (Photo by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo)

Funani, who was 24 years old and 3,900 pounds, would breed and make the population of hippos more genetically diverse. But instead, water churned and teeth gnashed as they struggled for dominance. After a cooling-off period and reintroduction, they became an affectionate couple. Keepers began to see breeding between the two in April. Otis garnered national attention in October when a photo of him “smiling” went viral. Typically, a hippo’s gestation period lasts eight months. Otis was taken off exhibit a few weeks ago because he has not fathered a calf at the San Diego Zoo and keepers did not know how he would react to a newborn. When Funani started acting

uncomfortable at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 26, Animal Care Supervisor

Matt Akel knew she was in labor. Funani ran in and out of the water. She raised her big mouth to the sky and chomped her teeth. Her sides heaved. A crowd gathered to watch, oc- casionally shouting “Push! Push!” Two okapis from the adjacent exhibit strained to watch the event through a fence. After two hours, Funani backed into the pool. And suddenly, a baby hippo popped up out of the water and gasped for its first breath. Keith Grupe’s daughter, 10-year-old Rachel, remarked, “I can’t wait to go home and tell my friends I saw a hippopotamus born!”u

Dani Dodge is an artist, writer and public relations representa- tive at the San Diego Zoo. She can be reached at ddodge@sandi-


The Pool

Service & Repair people you keep.

TOM RIVES Cont. Lic# 445392

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