Gloria is the tetartagonist in Madagascar, a major character in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and a supporting character in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. She is the sole female of the quartet and acts as a motherly figure to the males (at least until she becomes Melman's love interest).
As a hippo, Gloria had a passive nature when it came to most problems, and serves as the voice of reason for her friends. At the time of Marty the zebra's birthday, Gloria is another animal in the Central Park Zoo and was one of the many attractions, drawing crowds that enjoyed seeing her swimming about in her water tank. She would also receive the star treatment as one of the zoo's main attractions and attend Marty’s birthday party. At this party, Marty announced his wish upon blowing out the candles on his cake: to go to the wild. Gloria, Alex and Melman tried to have Marty come to his senses by telling him that life out in the wilds was savage and difficult, whereas life in the zoos was adequate. Marty was unhappy at hearing this and Gloria told Alex to go and console Marty.
Later that night, however, Marty acted out his wish and headed straight for the Terminal Station so as to take a train and go to Connecticut, where Marty heard that wide open spaces were found. Gloria urged both Alex and Melman to come with her so as to find Marty and bring him back before any people would notice. They were found, regardless, alongside Mason and Phil, the two chimps; and a troupe of secretive penguins, all ending up tranquilized with darts.
When they all came to, they found themselves in crates bound for Africa. When the penguins hijack the ship, the crates fall into the ocean and wash up on the island of Madagascar. After some confusion, they start to set up their own society and attract the attention of a lemur colony.
Gloria is first seen in a flashback as a child along with Marty and Melman on the day they meet Alex, whom Gloria considers cute.
In the present day, Gloria expresses a desire to join in the zoo breeding program, in the hopes of finding a boyfriend. When the animals crash land in Africa, she attracts the attention of a hippo named Moto Moto ("Hot Hot" in Swahili). Though she thinks he's the ideal boyfriend at first, she realizes that he only loves her because she is fat, where's Melman loves her for who she is. Realizing that she loves Melman back, she convinces him not to sacrifice himself into the volcano and Gloria grabs him by the horn and says, "It's crazy to think that I had to go half way around the world to find the perfect guy was right next door..." and then joins the other animals in rescuing Alex from Nana.
Gloria is excited about doing a circus act with her love life, Melman the giraffe. She loves to dance and wants to do a dancing act with him, but Melman doesn't know how to dance. But when Melman almost falls off a tightrope, Gloria comes to the rescue and teaches him how to dance. Near the end of the movie, Gloria says that their adventures were romantic.
- "Jump! Alex, jump! Don't worry, cats always land on their... face? Man, what kind of cat are you?"
- "Don't you shush me!"
- "Alrighty, boys, fun's over."
- "Okay, well, great. Let's make gas look good."
- "Come on, we are New Yorkers, right? We're tough! We're gritty! We're adaptable! And we are not going to lay down like a bunch of Melmans!"
- "Don't make me come up there, I'll get the whuppin' on both of y'all."
- "Who's your friend, or is that your butt?"
- "Hey, I can live with that."
- Melman, Melman, calm down, Melman, relax!
- Oh, Melman, you broke their clock?
- (as a calf) "Well, I think he's kinda cute."
- Hold on, Melman, okay, I'll get you down, sweetie.