James Dondero Something Worth Traveling For

Since the death of a hippo named Papa, in 2001, visitors to the Dallas Zoo will once again be treated to hippo’s Beautiful sight. All thanks to James Dondero, CEO of Highland Capital Management who sponsored Dallas Zoo in part with a 2.1-acre Simmons Hippo Outpost. Through a $1 million donation from the company, a 5000-square-foot construction will commence at Highland Capital Lodge. Even though its intended for special displays and private events, Dallas zoo CEO, Gregg Hudson claims the entire hippo outpost totaling $14 million will significantly benefit the zoo. Read more at Wikipedia about James Dondero.


Simmons Hippo Outpost’s high cost was due to the difficulty in its construction as it needed large quantities of fresh water to maintain circulation. Also, considering the small pools and outdoors around. According to the animal operations and welfare Vice President, Harrison Edell, there developed a need for a natural appearance. The hippo’s massive body weight and mouth were to be considered during the design of the pool to withstand pressure when throwing themselves around.

Professional help from CLR Design firm in Turner and Philadelphia got sourced from within the zoo. Using their expertise in water filtration and horticulture, they ended up using golf course’ soft grain sand. The animal’s welfare was also important in the construction; former zookeepers of Papa were looped in, offering some insight. Edell, knowing animal behavior, commented on the improvement of the zoo’s construction; from using concrete to a sand floor lounge and a giant grass pool.

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James Dondero unnoticed philanthropic actions made Mark Okada, co-owner of the company, to get honored among the 2015 Dallas Business Journal. Also, the company as the best place to work. James Dondero has made philanthropic donations and contributions in Dallas and other non-profit organizations. Snowball Express, Scholars Program like SMU’s Highland Capital Management Towers, National Science projects like Perot Museum and Capital for Kids; which elevate students Education are some of his other contributions.

James Dondero needed a charitable giving manager to head the philanthropic department for his company. Linda Owen, Dallas civic leader, took the position partnering with the Dallas Foundation. Dondero also insisted that Owen, who shared the company’s vision with a good track record would expand the project linking the private and public sector. Learn more about James Dondero at High Yield Credit.