Gayla Peevey was all of ten years old when she recorded the now-classic Christmas song, “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas.” She cut the track back in 1953 for Columbia records and even performed the single on the Ed Sullivan show. The song’s popularity allowed her hometown zoo to obtain a real hippopotamus.
But, Gayla found following up her hit song difficult, and trying to break out as a serious singer even more challenging. She eventually wrote and recorded songs under a different name before walking away from the business altogether to raise a family.
But then something funny happened: the Hippopotamus song continued to grow in popularity, until now it’s one of the most played Christmas songs of all time, and she even has reconnected with the Oklahoma City Zoo to perform the song there as a holiday tradition.