He may not have won the latest season of “American Idol,” but contestant Fritz Hager just got something else he can brag about for years to come: thanks to his devoted fans, he now shares his unique name with an adorable baby hippo.
When the 21-year-old singer-songwriter heard the Cincinnati Zoo was holding a vote to name their newborn hippopotamus and that “Fritz” was a contender, the singer took to social media to beg his fans to help make it happen. FritzNation responded — and today they’re celebrating their hippo-sized achievement.
Hager Told Fans ‘I Need This’ In Funny Video About Hippo
When one of Cincinnati Zoo’s resident hippos, Bibi, gave birth to a baby boy on August 3, 2022, the zoo staff wasn’t sure what to name the little cutie, so they asked the public for help. Within two days, they’d received suggestions from every state and over 60 countries, according to a press release. The staff narrowed it down to two choices: Ferguson or Fritz, and asked hippo fans everywhere to weigh in.
Hager, an indie-folk singer who made it into ‘Idol’s’ Top 5 in May, heard there was a chance he could share his unusual name with a hippo, so he asked his fans to pitch in by voting. On August 11, Hager uploaded a funny social media video of himself superimposed over footage of the baby hippo and his mom.
“This is a baby hippo,” he said. “He was just born in a zoo in Cincinnati and they don’t know his name yet. And I just learned they’re holding a vote! They have two names; they have Ferguson and they have Fritz.”
Wide-eyed and excited, Hager then exclaimed, “That’s my name! My name is Fritz! I need to have my name be the same name as this — look, look at him! Little Fritz! Please help. Please help me. Please.”
In the caption, Hager simply wrote, “Please vote I need this.” Fans chimed in, promising to vote and spread the word. One wrote, “It won’t be my first time voting for a Fritz!”
Zoo Announces New Name & FritzNation Goes Wild
On August 15, Cinncinnati Zoo officials announced that 223,542 votes had been received, and 56% of the votes were in favor of naming their baby hippo “Fritz.”
In a release from the zoo, head hippo keeper Wendy Rice said, “We would have been happy with either name, but we really think the name Fritz fits this spunky little guy’s personality. We also thought it was funny that it was suggested because ‘Fritz’ is here due to Bibi’s birth control being ‘on the fritz’.”
That’s right — Baby Fritz was a bit of a fluke. But ‘Idol’ fans say the little guy’s new moniker is no mistake. On August 16, just as Baby Fritz — who already weighs 100 pounds at just two weeks old — was taking his first steps outside, Hager was retweeting the news, writing “WE DID IT HOLY.”
Fans celebrated in the comment section, taking credit for swaying the vote.
One wrote, “The power of FritzNation!”
Another said, “Now I need to see a photo of Fritz and Fritz. *Manifesting*”
Another fan quipped, “You made it man. Congrats.”
Cincinnati Zoo Communications Director Michelle Curley told Heavy, “We were not aware of the campaign to make Fritz the winner, but I am glad it worked!”
Baby Fritz will live in the zoo’s Hippo Cove with his three-thousand-pound mom, five-year-old sister Fiona, and dad Tucker, who was born in 2003 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“The keepers are really happy with the name, and Fiona and Fritz sound good together,” Curley said.
It is not clear when or how Hager might meet “Little” Fritz; the singer is on tour through August, but there are no concerts scheduled yet in Cincinnati.