Baby hippo born at Cincinnati Zoo
Well-known Fiona the hippo gets a baby brother to complete the family
In early April 2022, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced the 23-year-old hippo Bibi was pregnant. Recently, the zoo proudly shared she gave birth to the healthy, full-term male hippo on August 3, 2022, who is a brother to the world-famous, Fiona.
“This calf looks huge to us because Fiona, Bibi’s first baby, only weighed 29 pounds when she was born six weeks premature and wasn’t able to stand on her own. This new calf weighs at least twice as much as Fiona did and is already walking,” expressed Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care, in an organizational release.1
“We’re not sure if nursing has occurred yet because the water is murky. It’s Bibi’s first time nursing, since Fiona had to be cared for by the hippo staff, so we’re keeping a close eye on them to make sure we don’t need to step in.”
On the morning of August 2, 2022, the hippo team at the zoo recognized a change in Bibi’s behavior, indicating signs of being in labor. The team had to intervene when Fiona was born 6 weeks premature and too small and weak to reach Bibi to nurse. Fortunately, that didn’t happen this time around.
“A female would take her newborn away from the bloat for about that amount of time in the wild, and we try to give Bibi the choice to do what feels natural to her,” said Gorsuch, in the release.
Fiona and Bibi’s mate, 19-year-old Tucker, are spending time together and staying out of the mom's way as she bonds with the new calf. Keepers have been separating them from Bibi periodically over the last weeks so they become accustomed to being a duo. They have grown comfortable with each other, in fact, 2,000-pound Fiona has even been seen napping on 4,500-pound Tucker.
Mom and calf will not be visible to the public immediately. Tucker and Fiona will be in the outdoor habitat except during key introduction times.
“Bibi and the baby are doing great together. They are inseparable, which is why it took almost five days to be sure about the sex,” said Gorsuch.2 “They will continue to bond inside for another week or two. Fiona and Tucker are outside, so visitors will still be able to see hippos when they come to the Zoo.”
“It will be interesting to observe and compare the behavioral differences between a hand-raised girl and a mom-raised boy,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care, Christina Gorsuch. “Will this calf be as comfortable with humans as Fiona is? Will he be less independent? Will he love cameras?,” added Gorsuch.
Zoo members have access to live cameras in the outdoor habitat and can view the action in Hippo Cove from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm daily. Access to the live hippo cams is also available to Virtual Members. NOTE: Cameras may not be on during introductions or when the animal team needs private access.
The baby hippo still does not have a name. You can submit names on the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s website and they will review them and announce a winner at the end of this week .
- Baby hippo joins Bibi, Tucker, and Fiona’s bloat at the Cincinnati Zoo. News release. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. August 4, 2022. Accessed August 11, 2022. https://cincinnatizoo.org/news-releases/baby-hippo-joins-bibi-tucker-and-fionas-bloat-at-the-cincinnati-zoo
- It’s a boy! News release. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. August 8, 2022. Accessed August 11, 2022. https://cincinnatizoo.org/news-releases/its-a-boy