The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens now has another hippo in their bloat.
Bibi, mom of famous Fiona the hippo, gave birth to a healthy full-term calf Aug. 3 around 10 p.m., according to Cincinnati Zoo officials.
Bibi, who gave birth to Fiona prematurely in 2017, became pregnant unexpectedly (she was on birth control), after the introduction of male hippo Tucker into her habitat last year.
“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,” Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care Christina Gorsuch said in a release.
It was announced that Bibi was pregnant in April of this year. According to the hippo keepers, hippo gestation tends to be around 8 months. While Bibi’s due date wasn’t until Aug. 15, hippos have a 30-day window in which they can give birth, and Bibi was solidly within that window.
On Aug. 3, keepers announced that Bibi had begun to show signs of labor, including irregular eating patterns and holding her tail to the side. But the keepers’ biggest indication that the baby was coming soon came when Bibi chose not to join Fiona and Tucker in the outdoor pool.
According to officials, hippos in the wild will isolate themselves from the others leading up to their baby’s birth. Bibi will be kept from the others for at least two weeks and even up to a few months. The keepers say they will follow her lead on reintroduction; signs that she’s ready will include sleeping near Fiona and Tucker within her separated pin area.
“Bibi and the baby, yet to be named, will spend the next two weeks bonding behind the scenes,” said Gorsuch. “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.”
Officials say that Fiona and Tucker are getting along swimmingly; despite their 2,500-pound difference in weight, the two like to snuggle, and visitors to the zoo can see them right now. However, Bibi and the baby will be kept from the public for a bit.
The zoo says they will make announcements and share any photos and videos that they can get without disturbing mom and her baby.
“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.”
The sex of the baby has not been announced. Keepers say they were not able to tell that in utero because they missed the window where they would be able to tell the sex, as the unborn calf got too big for the ultrasound machine to capture that information.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is located at 3400 Vine St., Avondale. Tickets and more info: cincinnatizoo.org.
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