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New zoo sponsor raises more than a smile

New zoo sponsor raises more than a smile at Hippo River

Hippos Faith and Fudge have the widest smiles at Auckland Zoo, and when it comes to teeth, they’re up there cutting it with the best of them – making a Geddes Dental sponsorship of Hippo River the perfect fit.

Today Geddes Dental Group begins a three-year sponsorship of the zoo’s Hippo River exhibit.

The exhibit, which opened in 1999 is also home to the serval (African cat), flamingos and baboons. It will now be known as Geddes Hippo River.

“We're delighted to have Geddes Dental at Auckland Zoo supporting this much visited and important exhibit," says Auckland Zoo Director Glen Holland. Hippos Faith and Fudge and their river area is a very popular part of this exhibit, and Geddes being in the business of teeth is a great alignment.

“Hippos are hugely reliant on a healthy mouth and strong set of teeth. Aside from eating, both males and females use their mouth and teeth for territorial disputes and defence. Their jaws are especially vital to their status as it’s their razor-sharp canines that help win territory, mating opportunities and dominance,” notes South African-born Mr Holland, who has many a hippo story to tell!

Geddes Dental Group is equally impressed with the fit.

“Last year we looked for a new brand identity which addressed a brief that included the words fun, different and something that would make people smile,” says Acting General Manager for Geddes, Robin Cooper – “and we came up with the hippo!

“The opportunity to sponsor Hippo River was perfect timing for Geddes Dental Group as it offers the ability to reinforce the branding, and is in keeping with Geddes’ long established links to the Auckland heritage,” says Ms Cooper.

"Geddes Dental Group is one of the most high profile dental brands in Auckland and is proud to be associated with the Auckland Zoo.

“Sponsorships are a vital financial contributor to enabling the zoo to maintain and develop existing exhibits like Hippo River, and to create modern enclosures,” says Zoo Director, Mr Holland.

Revenue from external sources fund 88 per cent of Auckland Zoo’s gross operating costs, with the remaining 12 per cent funded by Auckland City Council. In the 2003/2004 financial year, sponsorships and grants have funded 10 per cent of capital projects.

“Naming rights sponsors are exposing their companies to over half a million visitors a year, and they’re also aligning themselves with a public icon that has nature conservation, education, recreation and research at the heart of what it does – a powerful mix. In addition, there are numerous other benefits and opportunities,” says Mr Holland.

Other major exhibits still available for top level sponsorship include Elephant Clearing, Aussie Walkabout and the New Zealand Native Aviary.

Note to the editor: Conservation Status: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) classifies the common hippo as “Category 2 (widespread and relatively secure)”. Its estimate for the common hippo's total wild population stands at 157,000, the bulk of which exists in southern and eastern Africa. Although protected through much of its range, it says the hippo (third largest land mammal), is experiencing disturbing downward trends. Populations most at risk are those in West Africa, where the distribution is particularly fragmented.

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